Questions Answers and an Airstream Buyer’s Checklist

airstream repair cost #airstream #airstreaming vintage trailer repairs

I sat down with Ann and Paul one rainy spring morning to ask them a few questions about what people should know as they begin the process of repairing or restoring their vintage Airstreams and trailers.

Q: What’s the most frequently asked question you get from folks who are looking to get a trailer repaired at A&P?

ANN: “How much will it cost is the number one question we get. A complete renovation on a vintage Airstream, averages $40-thousand. The list goes on. Currently (2015), on a 25’ or less length trailer, to take the shell off and replace the axle, frame and floor can be around $15-thousand.

Q:What advice would you give someone BEFORE they contact you about vintage trailer repairs?

“A potential vintage trailer owner can spend a lot of money on a trailer that’s in very good condition, and invest less in the restoration of that trailer. OR, they can spend very little on the initial trailer, and there’ll be more to spend on restorations and repairs. It’s like squeezing a balloon. You’re going to pay, one way or another.”Inspect the trailer before you purchase it.

Q:What kind of inspection would you recommend?

The following is a point-by-point list of things to look for when considering a new trailer, or inspecting a trailer you already own, for potential repairs by A&P. This list is available to you as a free download for your use. Just click the file at the end of the story to download your copy!

Expect axles over 20-years-old to be shot.

Expect appliances more than 20-years-old to NOT be trustworthy

Observe – look at the body to frame connection at the tongue and bumper

Look for significant corrosion on the frame at those locations

Look for outriggers that have rubbed through the belly pan or body (body to frame connection problems)

Airstreams from the late 1950’s to about 1961, with rectangular frames, need additional diligence when inspecting for corrosion (especially in the belly compartment that may not be readily visible)

Jump on the back bumper! If the body-frame connection is compromised, there’ll be movement

There are known issues with wiring in late 1960’s solid aluminum wiring in Airstreams.

Anything that has added additional weight to the back of the trailer is a RED FLAG! Additional weight in the rear of a trailer can have significant structural impact.

Look around at windows and doors. Check the floor around windows and doors and wheel wells with an ice pick. You’re looking for softness in the plywood floor in those areas.

Check the windows for weather seal. Missing Airstream windows can be very expensive and nearly impossible to find.

Smell – for fresh chemicals; caulk, glues and carpets under sinks, under windows and other areas prone to damaging leaks.

Look for leaks. Staying ahead of leaks is part of trailer ownership. Expect leaks. If the trailer you’re considering has leaks, and it’s been leaking a long time – EXPECT SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.

Ask yourself, “Where has the trailer lived?” An Arizona trailer will not have suffered the rot and corrosion a Florida trailer suffers from. Ask for the trailer’s genealogy. Ask if the owner would share memorabilia or pictures.

If the plumbing has not been upgraded with new water pump / faucets / PEX, there may have been drips or leaks that also cause damage over time.

INSPECT THE HITCH before you hook your trailer up and take it home.

– interviewed in 2015 by the Loco Airstreamer