Manuals & Serial Numbers

Q: I need an owners and service manual for my Airstream. Where can I get one?
The first owners manuals were published in 1964. Prior to that, the owner received a brown envelope containing parts lists and other helpful information on the accessories in his trailer. A service manual with instructions for performing service operations did not exist until 1972.
You can get photocopies of owners manual (1964+) and service manuals (1972-1986) from:

Helen Davis Secretarial Services
PO Box 484 Sidney, OH 45365

Prices are about $33 and $70 respectively. After 1986 the Owners Manuals included available service information.

Q: How do I decipher the serial number on my trailer to determine the year made?
Serial numbers weren’t standardized until the mid 1960’s. I’ve captured these early formats in the info under each model type in the photo archive section.
For late model trailers:

1969 to 1980
Digit 1 = I – International; L – Land Yacht; E – Excella
Digit 2&3 = Length
Digit 4 =
A – Center bath twin beds
B – Center bath double bed
D – Rear Bath double bed
T – Rear bath twin
Digit 5 = Model year
Digit 6 =
J – Jackson Center, OH
S – Cerritos, CA
V – Versailles, OH (Argosy)
Digit 7-10 = Sequential serial number -3 Digits 1966-1969, 4 digits 1970+

Q: How are the new (1981+) serial numbers structured?
They followed the new VIN laws, and were structured to DOT and SAE specs. See this explanation.

Q: The first digit on my serial number plates looks like a 1, not an I, is my trailer differEnt?
From 1969 to 1980, the type face on the serial number plates changed to a san-serif modern style, and the new “I” is just a simple vertical straight line – same as the number”1″, so you can’t whether its an “I” or a “1” by looking at it. But since the other option levels for 1969 to 1980 use letters, E for Excella and L for Land Yacht, it’s assumed it is the letter “I” for International, not a “1”.

Q: When did the airstream model year start?
In September of the prior year. For example, a trailer made in October of 1958 is a 1959 trailer.