Manuals & Serial Numbers
Q: I need an owners and service manual for my Airstream. Where can I get one?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: In September of the prior year. For example, a trailer made in October of 1958 is a 1959 trailer.