Airstream (and like) trailer thread

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DKR, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Looking back at several old posts, I see where there has been positive replies to posted images of the iconic Airstream trailers. One of the few RVs made today that can stand full time living for decades, I thought I would start a thread on these trailer - with room for some other "full time living" capable trailers. These would include the Spartan and Argosy to name just two.

    There will be issues related to the "old culture/old times" and what is current in terms of acceptable living space. as well as energy use, sanitation and related 'day to day' living - no matter if in a home, trailer or Yurt.

    To begin where I always seem to begin - some history. If you don't know how things got to be a certain way, you miss important stuff.

    Airstream history.- from the company website. The (IMO better) source from Wiki. And of course, all the related trivia!

    What's not to love about this iconic piece of America?

    Shall we begin?
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  2. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    a 2019
    Airstream RV Globetrotter 27FB! Ta da!

    Except the MSRP for this 27 foot RV is.....$110, 384 - FOB. My calculator says that is just under $512 per sq foot. Plus - taxs, tags, insurance, rental space - if you plan on living in it full time. You can boondock in an Airstream, most choose not to.

    May be time to look at older models, many are still out there - (and damn near as expensive)

    Time for some perspective... (and a visit to :: Vintage Campers, Vintage Trailers, Vintage Parts, Vintage Restorations)

    This is a 1951 Spartan 36 Ft. Imperial Mansion - their flagship version.
    $21,500 and it "needs some work" Spend some time on the site - it is instructive.

    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  3. GOG

    GOG Free American Monkey Site Supporter

    After our wildfire SHTF event and evacuation we will be trailer shopping as the budget allows. I doubt I could afford an Airstream, but a trailer makes sense for future adventures whatever they may be. (Lots of lessons learned.)

    There was a TV show I think was called "Flipping RV's" where they restored vintage trailers. It was a great show and the young couple who ran the business seemed like nice folks. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be on anymore.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

  5. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    May just be on a different channel for you now.
    Flippin' RVs

    The folks that did restorations was
    Flyte Camp Vintage Trailers and Restorations

    By the way, this little beauty is on the market right now

    a 1959 fiberglass sweetie. New, this rig sold for a cool $8,000. ($70K in today's dollarettes)

    Today and fully restored...

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  6. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

  7. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    One of the Airstream 'knock-offs" is the Silver Streak. Built to live in full time

    this partly restored 33 ft rig is currently for sale - asking price in $15,500. These are every bit as nice as an Airstream, and with more headroom.

    (1979 Silver Streak Luxury Liner Trailer 33' (A) | For Sale | for more photos.

    Silver Streak - what's that all about?
    Q: I have seen a Silver Streak that looks exactly like an Airstream. Is it a kind of Airstream? What about those late 1940’s Curtis Wright Clippers? They look exactly like the 1930’s Airstream Clippers. Are they Airstreams?
    No, and sort of.
    Curtis Wright, who moved to LA from Michigan before the war to start a manufacturing plant, hired Wally Byam. After the war in 1946, they started production of a new post-war travel trailer based on Wally’s pre-war Airstream Clipper & Sliver Cloud models at the Van Nuys Airport (LA Metropolitan Airport). After some months they went their separate ways, forming the Airstream Co. and Curtis Wright Travel Trailers. This appears to be why late ’30’s Airstreams and 1940’s Curtis Wright’s look very similar. In June 1949, three individuals, Kenny Neptune, Frank Pollito and “Pat” Patterson, who had met each other while working for Douglas Aircraft, acquired the trailer business from Mr. Wright and began producing trailers under the Silver Streak name in south El Monte California -which it continued into the 1970’s as a separate company.

    Some history-
    History of Silver Streak
    Much heavier framed trailer, but the company went under in 1997. Like the Airstream, everything inside of the trailer had to go thru the door.... This is a big deal if you ever have to fix/replace something, lke the 'fridge.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  8. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Airstream also made the Argosy, mostly aluminum, the end caps are made of sheet metal, pressed into shape, thus cheaper to make than the classic Airstream.

    This very nice 1973, 28 foot model is on the market for $8,500 OBO. Not quite a shiny Airstream, as these were painted at the factory- but a well made.rig none the less. (see note below)
    (Interior shots)

    A side note about older Airstream products for the 70's.. Dom't!

    Q: It is rumored that Airstream quality suffered in the 1970’s when Beatrice Foods bought the company. Is this so?
    Beatrice Foods, in the conglomerate climate of the late ’60’s, bought Airstream in July 1969. Much is said about the time Beatrice owned Airstream, both good and bad. The good include the illustrated service manuals and similar production documentation they introduced. They often get the blame for the wider, squarer body style change in 1969, but Beatrice did not take over the company until after the newly styled 1969’s was introduced.
    Beatrice engineering did introduce the gray water tanks in 1973 and heavier interiors without changing the frame to support them, resulting in the famed “droop”. Beatrice design group introduced the vinyl covered cabinets, shag carpeting and dark wood grain interiors in 1972, but then that was the trend of the times. Beatrice management discontinued the smaller trailers in favor of the more profitable longer trailers aimed at retirees.
    Beat up badly, Beatrice sold Airstream to a group of industry executives operating as Thor Industries in July 1979, who then closed the California factory, and still own Airstream to this day.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  9. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    We lived in this model until the folks got the house built. After WWll housing was in short supply.
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  10. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    Not to take anything away from the units listed in this thread. However, considering some of the prices mentioned here, it may be considerably cheaper to design and build your own travel trailer.

    Joe Mooney, who runs the homesteadonomics channel on YouTube, has a short series where he has constructed A DIY Travel Trailer. He has posted the first three videos in this series, with at least one more video yet to be made. It has taken him a bit of time to get through this project, having started it half way through April of this year. Here are those first three videos, in chronological order:

    <EDIT 21-Sept-18>
    Here are two more videos regarding this build:

    </EDIT 21-Sept-18>

    <EDIT 17-Oct-18>

    </EDIT 17-Oct-18>

    While this may not be exactly what others are looking for, a similar project may be something for members to consider.

    As a side note, I have been following Joe and his homesteadonomics channel, almost from the very beginning of his channel. (He and his family live on rainwater collection, which is a topic I thoroughly enjoy.)

    He also performs his builds in a very professional manner, and with quality products. It may be worth having a look at some of his videos, to get some great ideas.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
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  11. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this thread:
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  12. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Thanks Paul, there are a numer of YT vids on 'converting' a 16 to 24 foot ute trailer into a kind of camper.

    The idea of this thread is to look at a "Mobile Home" (MH) // "Manufactured Home" (IOW a 23 to 33 foot ) trailer as a solid alternative to these 'tiny homes' that seem to be popping up.

    So far Airstream begat the Argosy, and now the Nest.

    Initially some Airstream folks broke away, we saw this as the Silver Streak. All durable enough to live in full time vs a crummy apt or rental home.

    The Spartan line was started in an aircraft factory in Tulsa. Now long gone, the product was, at the time, an excellent product. Other brands, like the 4 Star General, will be featured. I won't be looking at the Spam Can or other camping trailers. IMO, 19 feet is about as small as you can go to live comfortably full time as your primary residence.

    I thought folks might come along for the journey.

    Go back to the late 50's and early 60s, you saw lot of 8 x 30 all the way up to 8 x 50 trailers intended for park living only and being moved only once or twice. My DW lived in a 1960s era 8 x 40 Frontier brand MH while I was in the RoK for a remote tour. That trailer was moved multiple times as the owner worked for a drilling company. Used for storage today, it is still watertight....
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  13. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    Perhaps, if it were just me, I could go with a trailer as short as 19', as well.

    Of course, there are also sites / companies that offer "park models". I have seen a number of plans with dimensions of over 35' long, and as wide as 11' 10".

    At one point in history, I owned a 31' tag-a-long travel trailer. For me, that was too small / short to live in full time, even for two people. The funny thing is, I am now in temporary housing, which is a 20' sea container. Of course, this is only until we complete the construction of our home.
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  14. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    And that is where the 'current expectations' vs old times.

    Back in the late 40s a 800 foot home was roomy and large. Today, it would barely be suitable for a garden shed.

    Any trailer 8 feet wide can be towed in any US State without special markings... you go to 10 or 11 wise, you need a sign and possibly pilot cars. That's why I put the limits of 23 (183 sq ft) to 33 feet. (264 sq ft) Singleton or a couple. Tight? Yes. But if you garden for your food, or any other outdoor activity. this should be enough space to sleep, shower, cook and relax a bit.

    All States all 102 in widths (8 feet, 6 inch.) Very few trailers mfg push to the maximum.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  15. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    To look at what is current for today, we have to look at prefeb, manufactured (mobile) homes and tiny homes.

    This very well done article looks at everything start (building) all the way to who now owns the park what the home will sit. Well worth the time to read carefully....
    Mobile homeland

    Money quote that caught me by surprise:
    "Today, though, Clayton's connection to the lives of lower-level employees seems downright nutty. In 2003, Clayton sold his operation to Berkshire Hathaway for $1.3 billion, and since then, the Warren Buffett-backed company has gobbled up the majority of new manufactured home sales in the U.S."

    Yeah, me too.

    Along with owing the park, this new wave of owners are trying to build communities - like this:

    "Gloria Steinem, who traversed the country in a trailer as a child, discusses being smitten with the air of camaraderie at a women-only park in the Southwest. Much like Jackson, she is particularly taken with how the park makes use of public, communal space.

    "In 2001, I discovered an all-female trailer park near Tucson, Arizona. After being let through a double gate with a security code that changed daily, I found myself on streets named for admired women in history,” Steinem writes in My Life on the Road. “Suddenly, I could imagine living on the corner of Emma Goldman and Gertrude Stein, or following Dorothy Height to Eleanor Roosevelt. At the center of all the neat rows of trailers was a clubhouse where women could gather for everything from book clubs to gambling."

    Others offers spaces only to Seniors - 55+ ( and can be very nice.

    One example, a 1979 Shcultz for $15,500 (interior

    Given that in many places, parks offer the only alternative to apartment living, this may become a real industry at some point...
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  16. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    The history of one forward-leaning company, Oakwood, that went to fully integrated status in the 1970s;
    Oakwood Homes Corporation -- Company History

    A prefab company that was a hot ticket for a few years. All metal construction.
    Lustron Corporation (Lustrons: Building an American Dream House | National Trust for Historic Preservation)

    Many still in use today. .
    The company got a massive FedGov loan to build home. By 1949, Lustron Corporation had 234 dealers in 35 states. Then the dream hit reality.

    Unable to contain costs, the company made less than 3,000 homes, out of the 45,000 promised. In addition, an investigation by a U.S. Senate banking subcommittee uncovered a corruption scandal within Lustron Corporation. Its loans were recalled, forcing the company into bankruptcy in 1950.

    An estimated 1,500 of these homes survive, some listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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  17. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    And what is the best metal building made today?
  18. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    "None of the above" The Lustron was factory assembled with insulation place in sealed panels, The closest to that today would be SIP panels, which have their own set of issues..

    Most metal buildings on the market use spray-on foam for insulation. What can happen is moisture is trapped between the insulation and the wall - which then rusts.

    Which brings up this point in older all-metal MH - like the Airstream and Silver Streak. Moisture condenses on the outside metal, drains down, and begins to rot the floor. If you look, this is the most common issue in these older rigs. Not all suffer - but must do, esp around the door. Large temp swings add to this issues set.

    You can see any number of images of this floor rot on line.

    A few fiberglass trailers have an all fiberglass construction - to the point that floor drains are installed Most have wooden floors, so the same problem with rotting can be found. The Oliver 'glass rigs have double walled fiberglass and injected insulation. The price for these reflects the construction - an almost 19 footer (18 ft, 6 in) starts at $47,900.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
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  19. Oddcaliber

    Oddcaliber Monkey+++

    For that kind of cash I could get a Jayco popup and a truck!
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  20. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    True. The Oliver company call their basic trailer a "luxury" trailer. FWIW, I paid a tiny bit over 100K for the house I am now, I'm certainly Not going to drop $55K (148 ft or $371 sq ft - still cheaper than an Airstream) on something I can two behind my truck....nor will many other people. Yet, Oliver has a backlog of orders.

    The 'glass trailer first mentioned, the Casita, is somewhat lower priced, but is still at $19K/base 17 ft model $139/sq ft) , it is by no means a "low-cost" option.

    ETA - I just checked, the taxable value of just the the land my house sits on is now $85K - this for 0.2 acres and 'improvements' (water, power, sewer, gas) I can see where a 'trailer home' is considered an options for many.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
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