Q: Is it a problem finding parts to repair old Airstreams?
A: In general, no. Few parts of an Airstream (outside of the body itself) were of special manufacture. Therefore, a suitable substitute can usually be found at RV dealers, trailer supply houses, or the hardware store. Most parts and materials were high-end RV and home construction. Don’t expect “one-stop-shopping” or “at your fingertips ordering”, it will sometime be as much work finding usable and correct parts as installing them.
Q: Where can I get parts?
A: The very first thing to do is get a copy of the RV Parts and Accessories catalog from your RV dealer, cost is about $4. This 500 page catalog contains almost every part still made for trailers and motorhomes. This way you can identify what is still available, and order it from your dealer. Even many 1950′s parts are still made, and can be ordered in by your RV dealer, or shipped from anyone of dealers that ship nationwide.
Second thing to do is find your closest Airstream dealer. Many of the post 1968 parts and some of the pre 1969 parts are still available.
Third, develop a list of what you need, and then watch for RV salvage yards and junked trailers during your travels. Garage sales and building material salvage companies are also good sources.
Don’t overlook wrecks/hulks of other brands (non-Airstreams), as the parts used on them will be usable for same era trailers. It is not uncommon for folks to keep such a “parts trailer” around in addition to their usable trailer.
Fourth, some items are still available from the manufacturer, and reproduction parts are starting to appear from small companies and private individuals. I try and track as many sources as possible in the Supplier Section.
Q: Are older vintage parts available from the Airstream factory? Legend has it someone bought it all and has it stored away.
A: What little was left of the inventory of 1968 and earlier parts were sold to Inland RV about 1990, most of which has been sold. This was long after the California plant closed. The parts inventory that California had on hand was shipped to Ohio in the 1980′s. So, I guess that makes the answer “no”.