In the words of my Dad, I have a cunning plan. A slightly off-kilter, incredibly awesome, if-you-know-me-at-all-you’ll-understand cunning plan.
You see, the recent detour in my life has brought a lot of bad, but it’s also opened up a lot of possibilities. Possibilities in how I spend my time, who with, and most importantly for this post, where I’ll spend it.
I don’t know if I’ll stay in Tennessee, end up in some other state, or one day be able to travel. But at the same time I want/need somewhere to call home. I could have gone back to the Turtle, but I decided that for a variety of reasons that wasn’t the best option for me right now. Then I started looking at building a tiny house, but for a variety of other reasons that wasn’t the most logical answer either.
Then I had an aha moment.
I’m going to buy an old Airstream, fix it up myself, and call it home! Or I might call it something like Dharma or Mary Anne. But you get the point. The idea excites me more than you could imagine. I love all things vintage, and the idea owning a lovingly restored piece of classic Americana makes me giggle a little. It’s something that’s been on my mind for years, so as soon as I realized it was not only completely doable, but completely logical as well, I started trying to make it work.
I have a Pinterest board full of everything from pretty turquoise stoves to tutorials on re-covering those iconic curved walls. I know exactly what I want the end result to look like, down to the sink I want in the bathroom. But before any of that can come to fruition I have to get past the first hurdle… finding Dharma (I think I like that name).
Since this is the interwebs, and you guys might know some people that know some other people, I thought I’d share what it is I’m looking for, on the off chance that one of the people your people knows has seen one parked by an old Exxon station or something.
When we picked out the Turtle it was fairly simple… find a new model with a floor plan we liked and start searching older versions of that same model. Once we had narrowed down the floor plan by going through approximately 1000 campers we were nearly done.
Airstreams aren’t that easy, from what I can tell. I haven’t found one reliable source listing floor plans for vintage models, and even if I did the odds of finding that exact model are slim to none. I’m learning you have to be pretty flexible in what you want.
I’ve been searching Craigslist from Florida to Ohio and North Carolina over to Kansas, I get daily emails from Airstreamclassifieds.com, and sometimes when I’m feeling lucky I just search the Googles for ‘Vintage Airstream for sale’. I’ve spent a little time on EBay, but they really like their campers on there… most are going quite a bit above of my budget.
All this searching has helped me come up with my list of wants and must-haves though, even if parts of it seem to be ever-changing. It’s easier to consolidate the list into bullet points, so here’s what my ideal find would look like.
- A 1965-1980 model. Preferably somewhere mid to late 70′s… it seems they had worked a few big kinks out by then.
- Anywhere between 24′ and 29′ long. Shorter than 24′ could get cramped, and longer than 29′ feels huge to me and might be an issue if I ever get up the courage to try and pull it myself.
- Rear bedroom. This is one of my biggies, and the hardest part to find. I can find models with twin beds in the center all day long, but you can’t turn those into one queen the way you can with a rear bedroom. I’ve recently decided for the right price on the right camper I could maybe compromise on a center twin bed arrangement, but I’d rather not. The dog takes up enough room on a full mattress.
- I’d prefer the outer shell to be in decent shape. It doesn’t have to be polished, I just don’t want to deal with huge dents or rust.
- Most of the interior walls and layout will be in place. This is negotiable, but my fear is that if it’s completely gutted it will take me forever to figure out where everything goes.
- Windows intact. This goes along with the shell being in decent shape. Windows are expensive, and if possible I’d like to avoid having to replace a bunch of them.
- No frame rot or rear sag. I don’t mind replacing subfloor if need be, or putting new walls up, but I’d prefer to not have to get into dealing with the frame
- I’d like to stay under $8000 for the trailer itself. Ideally around $5000, but that depends on condition and how much work I’ll need to do.
Basically I’d just like to find something that needs a lot of work inside but isn’t trashed. I’m perfectly comfortable laying new flooring, refinishing cabinets, and building new structures for couches/beds/etc. I come from a construction family and worked building houses with my Dad and husband for years… I can handle all of that. I can even handle the plumbing and electrical if it needs to be completely redone, plus I have friends I’m sure I could bribe into helping me.
My biggest issue so far has been the rear bedroom… I’ve found numerous models that would work but had those blasted center twin beds. I also found one that was absolutely perfect on Craigslist in Georgia, but it had been listed for a month and the seller never returned my phone call. I assume it was snatched up and she didn’t take the ad down.
So, that’s my plan, and my list. Now that you know I trust you’ll keep your eyes open for those beautiful silver trailers as you drive around. I’ll keep hunting on my end, and eventually this blog will be inundated with killer before and after pictures of my retro hippie caravan!