Decoding the Airstream

1963 Airstream Tradewind

1963 Airstream Tradewind

My mom visited the Airstream today.  She handed over the cash, picked up the title, and snapped some pictures (most of these are from the eBay listing), so the camper is officially ours.  In her words, it’s rough but workable.  GOOD ENOUGH!

My parents are headed back on Saturday for a more in-depth mechanical inspection before towing it back to their farm in Michigan. Winter is coming (oh heyyyy Game of Thrones reference) so I’ve mentally prepared myself to wait until spring for Airstream to actually make the move to Wyoming.  If it happens before then, we can throw a party in celebration.  Since I’m nothing if not obsessive, I’m filling my time with research.  The service section on the Airstream website, full of glorious information like floor plans and original price sheets, has become my new best friend.

1963 Airstream Tradewind

The eBay listing advertised a 25 foot 1963 Airstream Land Yacht Tradewind.  Now that she has the title in hand, I can confirm all the important parts of that description.  It is a 1963 Airstream Land Yacht Tradewind.  From what I know so far, Tradewind trailers are all officially 24′, not 25′.  This model came in two floor plans – double or twin.   I’ve been going back and forth trying to guess which we purchased.  The VIN number would clarify this, but I’ve been pestering my mom enough already and can’t really keeeeep calling her with hey! Send me the VIN! Based on the pictures she sent today, I’ve decided the trailer is a Double setup.  Since Alan is 6’5″ and I’m 5’10”, I think twin beds would have suited us better sleep wise, but sleeping in separate beds is terribly dull.  Turns out we might be gutting the entire beast anyway, so we can rework the floor plan and it may be a non-issue.

24' Airstream Tradewind Floorplan

click for huge version

While the Airstream website provides floor plans, the adorable old scans leave something to be desired in terms of readability so I pulled the file into Illustrator and quickly drew a new version.  I suppose analyzing the original floor plan is a waste of time if we’re gutting the trailer anyway.  Whatever, this is my idea of a good time.

1963 Airstream Tradewind

1963 Airstream Tradewind

1963 Airstream Tradewind

1963 Airstream Tradewind

Onto the gutting.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the photos my mom sent today.  The trailer looks dated, yes, but only as dated and gross as I already expected.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the Airstream forums lately so I’m not seeing anything in the photos that I didn’t expect.  My mom was quick to point out that the photos look better than the reality.  Thankfully, she said the trailer doesn’t immediately smell of dead animal (mouse), which is a nice find.  The forums are full of mice infestation stories.  I’m sure we’ll find signs of mice, but knowing that the trailer doesn’t smell of rotten corpses is a solid win!  She said it smells musty and damp, so I’m assuming we have a leak and might end up gutting the trailer down to the frame to lay a new sub-floor.

Then there’s also this.

1963 Airstream Tradewind

I haven’t even shared these photos on the Airstream forums because I don’t want to heeeeeeeeear what they’ll say about the dents.  We knew about them prior to purchase, of course.  Bottom line – a large shallow dent can often be popped back out and then massaged somewhat smooth.  A small dent (these are not small) can often be popped by a dent expert.  A large deep dent – I cannot tell you if these are “deep” or “shallow” – probably requires a new end cap which is HUGE money.  We’re definitely at a crossroads here.  If the floor is wet and the dents cannot be pulled from the outside, we need to gut the interior down to the frame and we’re looking at a total rehab.  If the floor is just damp in one spot, we may be able to fix and epoxy without gutting.  Even then, if the dent has to be “pushed” out from the interior instead of “pulled” from the exterior, we’re looking at a gut job in at least the bathroom, at which point we might as well just gut the entire thing, no?  I honestly don’t *really* care about the dents that much, because we’re not building a showpiece, but I can admit that it’s a bit silly to fix the interior only to find ourselves lamenting the dents in a few years and then we’ll just redo the whole thing? No thanks.

I think we’re looking at a complete gut.  This is…. a confusing combination of exciting, terrifying, so fun, so much work, and expensive.  In the meantime, Ms. Airstream seriously needs a name. I’m still being a baby about committing to one without seeing her first.  I’m adding to the previous list with Ruby, Polly, Clover, and Clementine.

Also, enjoy some adorable vintage ads!



Both ads courtesy of the Airstream website, I just stitched them together from the PDF available here

8 thoughts on “Decoding the Airstream

  1. I love the whole idea of this! The ads are wonderful, especially that there are no behemoth SUVS in sight – those old cars were monsters of hauling. :)

    • Totally agree! If we’re being honest, I keep thinking we now need a 60s vehicle (wood station wagon? pickup?) to tow the camper.

  2. First, I have jittery feet under the desk at the idea of all that renovating. WHAT A PROJECT! Second, I’m totally coming to help/document the event with photos. Seriously. I’ve loved those shiny Airstreams since I saw them on telly (not living in America kind of means you don’t see them in person. Ever.) and I’ve always wanted a camper to renovate! Can I live vicariously through your Airstream? Please?

    • Ah, your enthusiasm is awesome! My parents still have the trailer in Michigan and keep sending me new pictures, so I’m currently living vicariously through other people’s completed renovations. We can all share in the collective happiness of Airstreams.

      You just let me know when you want to trade a week in the wild west riding ATVs and camping in an Airstream for a week in Europe ;)

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