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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    752

    Anyone fixing up Airstreams?

    Looking at fixing up an airstream. I'm thinking of living in it part time, maybe a week or two at a time. Looks like I can get something around $12k with some repairs/updates to do but not far from ready to get on the road. I've never bought a camper, let alone a fancy airstream. Any recommendations? Red flags to watch out for? I see some with missing titles, big deal or not really?

  2. #2
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    Airstream people are obsessive about those things. Go to the source: https://www.airforums.com/forums/

  3. #3
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    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    I had a 40 yr old Trillium which is one of those little 13' fibreglass trailers people will pay too much for,

    i got it cheap cuz it needed too much work, something that old needed a whole bunch of fixing IME

    I rented it to a buddy, she put temp workers in it who hotboxed it so bad i couldnt get the smell out

    then i sold it cheap to a guy who really wanted it, between rent & bumping the price I made a tidy profit

    My take ; if people are obsessive about a trailer they are probably paying too much which drives the price up too much, if i had it to do again i would just buy a small trailer that didnt have a bunch of deffered maintenance and use it
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  4. #4
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    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    https://terryoreilly.ca/terstream/

    This guy Terry O'reilly does a show on advertising spin which I have alwasy found very interesting

    so he found a way to write it all off by making his airstream into a mobile recording studio, check out his blog
    it looks like he did a rebuild right down to the frame
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    An Anheuser-Busch Barley Field
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    5,130
    the lady friend’s family just got a used one, due to a set of circumstances the ‘rents couldn’t travel this past weekend so we took the liberty of taking it on the maiden voyage

    Click image for larger version. 

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    they are a lot nicer than I thought

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    I smell poutine!!!
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    Kicking myself. There was a nice Airstream hull with ruined interior a few years ago that was like $800 or something ridiculous. I was tempted to buy it, finish gutting it, and do a custom interior. Oh well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Colorado
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    1,983
    My mom's 1974 24' Land Yacht. Outside restored, inside is operable but vintage. Someday it will be mine but I'm happy to wait. I do look forward to gutting it when the time comes.

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    When discussing the wife's cabin, and the family desire to spend more time camping, I said if she sold her place, we would buy a nice travel trailer (she is done with the tent thing). I foolishly joked she should look at airstreams and maybe see if an older model of comparable price to near-new square box trailer was of interest to her. I suppose this could go into that other thread, but I come home from from a work conference in the fall of 2017, and she asks if I mind driving to Edmonton to pick up her new airstream. Not some older model either - a 2010 20'FC similar to the bambi east or bust pictured. It only took her until this last fall to sell the cabin to pay for the trailer. She absolutely loves it, it's her spare bedroom when she is on night shift and was planned to be a quarantine quarters ala NASA space program if the COVIDF hit one of us, and also doubles as a spare room when family or friends visit.

    As Iceman linked, the airstream forums are the place for just about everything you could ever want to know about the trailers and motorhomes. Airstreams classifieds is a great resource for used; we got ours on the kijiji. I am very partial to the 24' early 70's landyachts similar to Jax's - best combination of floorplan, lounge space and bath, with decent sized tanks. Wife loves the floor layout of the 20' with the super large kitchen and full bath.

    If looking at used, set a price and stick with it cause they aren't cheap to restore. Note that almost all the appliances (fridge, range, hot water heater, furnace) are all owned by the same parent company supplying the entire industry (German Domentic). The aluminum frame and skin doesn't rot like a stick-frame trailer, but a leak either from outside or from the plumbing within will make short work of the wood floor, and with the enclosed belly-pan, the frame itself is steel and can get pretty rusty. A full frame-off restoration along with entire interior will cost north of $40000, which explains some of the prices of the older units that have had this work done. If you get one with good appliances, a solid floor and running gear, an interior remodel to update the cabinets and upholstery should be under $20000. Note that in the 80's the type and coating of aluminum changed - the later models will not polish like the old ones, and the clearcoat does need some TLC a couple times a year or it will start to peel. Old ones polish up very nice, but this needs to be done every other year to keep that polish lighting grass fires (no shit). Some parts are costly and difficult to source, others are only available 2nd hand most often via the airstream forums, and others can be got for a steal from various suppliers/ebay/amazon, so don't be afraid to shop around. The best single upgrade I made to our was a 3" lift to the dexter axle, raising that back end a few when the departure angle gets tight. Also, it is generally bad form to attach a hitch to the rear to put in a bike tray - on some models this increases the chance of separation between the lower steel frame and upper airstream frame, not to mention it can mess with the weight distribution, resulting in dangerous sway. Some have been successful doing this, others have wrecked their trailer. So the bikes wither go in the bed of the truck, or up on the rack with the boat. But otherwise, the frame design is far more sturdy and will last longer than a comparable weight other brand trailer, rot of the stick frame notwithstanding. Check the roof, and ask if the seams for all the appliances/vents/etc have been re-sealed at least every 10yrs (our is due this summer). And a dozen other little things that keep popping up in my head.

    I think Piotrowski was restoring an older airstream. May this thread will get him back into the collective...

    Happy hunting!
    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Colorado
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    553
    Anything is cheaper than an Airstream.

    Airstreams don't have slide outs. Once you have a trailer with a ton, Airstreams seem dumb.

    I keep my trailer in a heated garage, I have way less maintenance and they look better way longer.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
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    Split kook, this thread ain't for garaged trailer fairies.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Montrose, CO
    Posts
    3,244
    Something to be aware of on older RVs is that many parts do not match the newer standards and are hard to find or unobtainium, ex. Window vent covers.

    Everything is going to cost more to begin with, but COVID has made this worse. And the parts world is like the MTB world right now.

    What is your tow vehicle? This will dictate what you want to an extent. Often times, the bigger models are cheaper as they need a 3/4 ton plus and they are well, bigger to park, etc.

  12. #12
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    Sep 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by exsparky View Post
    Airstreams don't have slide outs. Once you have a trailer with a ton, Airstreams seem dumb.

    I keep my trailer in a heated garage, I have way less maintenance and they look better way longer.
    There are a few Airstreams with slides, but the weight addition is significant.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And yup, interior storage makes a huge difference in any vehicle's care and maintenance. Ours is outside all year, and covers don't exist/aren't recommended (they mark the skins).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    752
    Quote Originally Posted by BCMtnHound View Post
    When discussing the wife's cabin, and the family desire to spend more time camping, I said if she sold her place, we would buy a nice travel trailer (she is done with the tent thing). I foolishly joked she should look at airstreams and maybe see if an older model of comparable price to near-new square box trailer was of interest to her. I suppose this could go into that other thread, but I come home from from a work conference in the fall of 2017, and she asks if I mind driving to Edmonton to pick up her new airstream. Not some older model either - a 2010 20'FC similar to the bambi east or bust pictured. It only took her until this last fall to sell the cabin to pay for the trailer. She absolutely loves it, it's her spare bedroom when she is on night shift and was planned to be a quarantine quarters ala NASA space program if the COVIDF hit one of us, and also doubles as a spare room when family or friends visit.

    As Iceman linked, the airstream forums are the place for just about everything you could ever want to know about the trailers and motorhomes. Airstreams classifieds is a great resource for used; we got ours on the kijiji. I am very partial to the 24' early 70's landyachts similar to Jax's - best combination of floorplan, lounge space and bath, with decent sized tanks. Wife loves the floor layout of the 20' with the super large kitchen and full bath.

    If looking at used, set a price and stick with it cause they aren't cheap to restore. Note that almost all the appliances (fridge, range, hot water heater, furnace) are all owned by the same parent company supplying the entire industry (German Domentic). The aluminum frame and skin doesn't rot like a stick-frame trailer, but a leak either from outside or from the plumbing within will make short work of the wood floor, and with the enclosed belly-pan, the frame itself is steel and can get pretty rusty. A full frame-off restoration along with entire interior will cost north of $40000, which explains some of the prices of the older units that have had this work done. If you get one with good appliances, a solid floor and running gear, an interior remodel to update the cabinets and upholstery should be under $20000. Note that in the 80's the type and coating of aluminum changed - the later models will not polish like the old ones, and the clearcoat does need some TLC a couple times a year or it will start to peel. Old ones polish up very nice, but this needs to be done every other year to keep that polish lighting grass fires (no shit). Some parts are costly and difficult to source, others are only available 2nd hand most often via the airstream forums, and others can be got for a steal from various suppliers/ebay/amazon, so don't be afraid to shop around. The best single upgrade I made to our was a 3" lift to the dexter axle, raising that back end a few when the departure angle gets tight. Also, it is generally bad form to attach a hitch to the rear to put in a bike tray - on some models this increases the chance of separation between the lower steel frame and upper airstream frame, not to mention it can mess with the weight distribution, resulting in dangerous sway. Some have been successful doing this, others have wrecked their trailer. So the bikes wither go in the bed of the truck, or up on the rack with the boat. But otherwise, the frame design is far more sturdy and will last longer than a comparable weight other brand trailer, rot of the stick frame notwithstanding. Check the roof, and ask if the seams for all the appliances/vents/etc have been re-sealed at least every 10yrs (our is due this summer). And a dozen other little things that keep popping up in my head.

    I think Piotrowski was restoring an older airstream. May this thread will get him back into the collective...

    Happy hunting!
    Thanks for the insight. Any thoughts of a mid 60s airstream? Like layout, etc. I'm looking at a '66 over memorial weekend.

    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    Airstream people are obsessive about those things. Go to the source: https://www.airforums.com/forums/
    Oh duh, don't know why this didn't occur to me

    Quote Originally Posted by exsparky View Post
    Anything is cheaper than an Airstream.

    Airstreams don't have slide outs. Once you have a trailer with a ton, Airstreams seem dumb.

    I keep my trailer in a heated garage, I have way less maintenance and they look better way longer.
    Yeah, slideouts are pretty nice to create space. But I don't think airstreams are that expensive if you take into account depreciation. A camper value plumets like crazy, an airstream holds its value pretty well. Its the same reason I don't consider tacomas expensive. I know a few people that sold their tacoma for the same price they bought it for. Pretty cheap at that rate.

  14. #14
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    Sep 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by brundo View Post
    Thanks for the insight. Any thoughts of a mid 60s airstream? Like layout, etc. I'm looking at a '66 over memorial weekend.

    Oh duh, don't know why this didn't occur to me

    Yeah, slideouts are pretty nice to create space. But I don't think airstreams are that expensive if you take into account depreciation. A camper value plumets like crazy, an airstream holds its value pretty well. Its the same reason I don't consider tacomas expensive. I know a few people that sold their tacoma for the same price they bought it for. Pretty cheap at that rate.
    Not too well versed with the '60's, but in 69's the owner changed and the trailers got a bit wider and less heavy finishing like real wood. Move was to go bigger/wider, and offset the weight with the interior. Also, a separate grey tank (only fresh and black tanks) didn't show until early/mid 70's. If the axles of the 66 haven't been changed, they likely will need it. Not too hard or difficult to source as dexter is a pretty common axle mftr. As I said before, rot in the floor, and perhaps rear frame separation should be examined closely.
    Floor plans of that year:
    https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...rplans-210.pdf

    As for value, the market is crazy right now. We could sell our bambi right now for $10000 more than we paid, sight unseen.
    Last edited by BCMtnHound; 05-17-2021 at 06:54 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    907
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    Get a really good rock guard between tow vehicle and trailer. One of those full width hula skirt gravel guards at minimum. Airstreams can show little 65mph rock pecks as dents. That shit accumulates if you're roading it a lot.
    Pretty sure Airstream makes all their RV transporters put a shield on the hitch in addition to the big mudflaps RV transporters are normally required to have on their trucks to protect new RVs from rocks.

    Source: Guy transporting an Airstream getting fuel next to me.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Colorado
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCMtnHound View Post
    There are a few Airstreams with slides, but the weight addition is significant.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And yup, interior storage makes a huge difference in any vehicle's care and maintenance. Ours is outside all year, and covers don't exist/aren't recommended (they mark the skins).
    Wow. Get this one if possible. Can I ask for a toy hauler airstream now?

    Also look at interior storage. I was offered 95% of what I paid for my 2015 cougar because it has more storage than the new models and mine still looks new and well... covid.

  17. #17
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    Sep 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by exsparky View Post
    Wow. Get this one if possible. Can I ask for a toy hauler airstream now?
    Ask and ye shall receive. Well, used now, I think they were only available for 2009 and 2010, but they come up now and again on the classifieds.
    https://rvblogger.com/blog/does-airs...-a-toy-hauler/
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    Note that Airstream is owned and built by Thor Industries, one of the largest RV companies in NA. So they have tried just about everything with an airstream for the modern market at least once.

  18. #18
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    I smell poutine!!!
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    How about one with a fold out soft top bunk, hybrid camper style?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by riser3 View Post
    How about one with a fold out soft top bunk, hybrid camper style?
    Comon now. Airstreams have been produced and have been marketable since the 30's not by being stupid

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
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    Not sure if this is a deal or a nightmare. The lack of title can be fixed fairly easily here.

    https://capecod.craigslist.org/rvs/d...323106365.html

  21. #21
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    Mar 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by riser3 View Post
    How about one with a fold out soft top bunk, hybrid camper style?
    Those really only work if you are going with a full-on tent trailer. Those type of setups work best when the whole camper folds down into a sealed trailer. Hybrids don’t have that advantage, so the seals on the pop-out tents can easily comprise the rest of frame if moisture gets in.

    Anything tent-trailer oriented is a 3-season camper at best, and anyone buying them should plan as such. They are not bear-resistant either, so if there are bear issues at any campground they will be banned quickly.

    That being said, those things are dope to have and a nice compromise for families wanting to take a trip out in the sticks. Plus the ability of them to collapse down into a tightly-knit trailer will make it easier to haul around (and will make it easier for your brakes to reach 250k miles).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    Not sure if this is a deal or a nightmare. The lack of title can be fixed fairly easily here.

    https://capecod.craigslist.org/rvs/d...323106365.html
    Here's a similar model near that vintage in decent shape:
    https://www.airstreamclassifieds.com...irginia-361295

    If there is no floor rot or other structural damage in the frame or running gear, and maybe(?) some of the appliances/awnings can be salvaged, add about $30000 and sweat equity to get back in shape. Far too large for my tastes however.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCMtnHound View Post
    Far too large for my tastes however.
    Agreed. It's a big boy. To me, cool Airstreams have a kind of sportiness that's not there for me with the bigguns.

  24. #24
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    It's a question that comes up constantly on the forums - choose for me this smaller model, usually a ~25', or a larger model closer to 30', and most responses are go larger. But then the demographic tends to be older, and spending a significant part of their year in their trailer (lots of full-timers, or park and stay for a month+) so bigger is better for them I guess. I'm in your camp, pardon the pun, and would't really want one bigger than 23'. Easier to find a decent camp spot to fit into, room enough to enjoy a day or two inside when the weather is shit, but when the clouds clear most time is spent outside. And typically light enough you don't need a 3/4 ton to haul the trailer plus all the toys.

    I find our 20' bambi a bit small because of tank size - only really enough fresh water for 3 full days with 2 ladies without hook-ups (assuming you don't have fresh waterbody nearby for bathing and washing). Some 23' the fresh tank size goes from 23g in the 20' to 39g, enough to last closer to 5 or 6 days, which is a sweet spot for our kind of stay at a single site. But the wife was set on the kitchen layout and bath of the bambi, so happy wife happy life. And with the truck, total length is 42ft, which means we can park in two connected parking spots at the grocery store without the nose or ass hanging into the lane. It's the little things like that that removes some stress from what should be a vacation.
    Last edited by BCMtnHound; 05-18-2021 at 08:04 PM.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Colorado
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    I would go as big as you can fit where you are going. The place I go can't fit my 30' in 25 of 30 spaces.

    Bigger better rated tires are rarely a bad idea.

    I wouldn't get a triple axle.

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