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Old 07-03-2003, 09:46 AM   #1
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Most common problems with 1960s trailers?

Hi all

I'm hopefully soon about to be the proud owner of a nice 1967 Caravel. While it does not appear to need much (and has already had a fair amount of updates and improvements) I am wondering what sort of common problems people have experienced with this vintage -- and what items are most typically updated.

For example, I understand this unit comes with a Univolt. I've read the good, bad, and ugly about Univolts and am wondering if it's common to replace the unit after 35 years or so. If so, with what?

The refrigerator is another big item. The one we are getting works, so we'll leave it alone, but I'm wondering how other people have fared with their 1960s fridges and what they've had to do.

Electric is my obsession of the day, so I'm also interested in whether anyone has added a second battery, a power monitor/control panel, or other major electrical upgrades. We'd like to be able to run a laptop from time to time (we play DVD movies on it in the evening) but I am concerned about the quality of power supplied.

One thing I'd really like to understand is the most likely repairs or updates we should expect in the next year or two. I have a long list of "fun" improvements I want to make but it would be good to have a practical view on what we might have to do first.

Any comments on your experiences with 1960's trailer updates and repairs would be welcome!

-- RL
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Old 07-03-2003, 10:11 AM   #2
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Charging system replacment

To give you an idea on what may be required to change out the univolt, you can see how I did mine on my '71.

That was one of my first projects.

If I did it again I would probably go with the intellipower only because that's what everyone else is using.

My statpower has been flawless though.

http://www.telecom-pros.com/tim/airs...eplacement.htm
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Old 07-03-2003, 10:19 AM   #3
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As long as the floor is good then your repair expectation sould be no worse then a unit that is 10 years old. Not a lot has changed.

Reefer is the biggie price wise and water heater would be next. Heaters seem to last forever but fully inspect it each season. The heater in our 59 has a bad blower motor but otherwise fine. I'll be able to repair it for $40.

As for the power...Univolts work but they are a little "Dirty" electricly speaking. You might want to invest in a newer unit.
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Old 07-03-2003, 11:12 AM   #4
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Congrats on your Caravel!

If you're prioritizing projects, Project 1 ,of course, would be to make sure that it's safe. My "short list" would include a look at the following:

Brakes
Axle/bearings
wheels/tires
hitch
lights
LP tanks/system

When it comes to "updates," you should first ask the threshhold question of whether you want to restore it to "original" condition, or whether you want to be one of those knuckle draggers who change things! (Just kidding--that is not a prevailing sentiment--it's just that those of us who are "oldest children" hate change
)

You'll find a wealth of ideas and a variety of opinions about "updates" (sniff) by searching the threads on this Forum. You'll see that some would never use an oven, so they replace it with a microwave. Some have great use for an oven, and would never use a microwave. In the end, it's a matter personal preference, I think.

Best advice from this sophmore to the freshman class? Read everything you can on this Forum, and at the following sites:

www.airstream.net/index.html
www.vintageairstream.com/index.html
www.insideout-design.net/maxwell/
http://globetrotter64.home.att.net/
www.airstream.com
www.inlandrv.com
www.airstreamdreams.com

Good luck, and welcome!
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Old 07-03-2003, 12:15 PM   #5
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One other concern with the '66-'68 models are those very cool, frameless & curved, Corning Glass windows. They no longer make them...if one breaks it is difficult & very expensive ($$$) to find a replacement. The option most folks go with is using Plexiglas, Lexan, etc. as a substitute with varying results.

Shari
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Old 07-03-2003, 06:10 PM   #6
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Most common problems with 1960s trailers?

Greetings RL!

I have owned my '64 Overlander since 1995, and at this point virtually every system has needed some kind of attention, and I don't think that my experience is terribly unusual. The remedies on my coach have included:

1.) Replaced the original Armstrong Bay Breeze Air Conditioner in 1997 after the compressor seized - - my dealer recommended this as he couldn't locate a replacement compressor of any type. The replacement is a Coleman Mach (13,500 BTU) - - downside is that it doesn't have a drain pan so condesate is deposited on the roof, and it is not thermostatically (wall mounted thermostat) controlled like the old Armstrong.

2.) Replaced the original furnace with a new Suburban unit (30,000 BTU) as the heat exchanger on the original had rusted out. This also necessitated a new exterior vent cover, but since the original had accident damage that didn't disturb me.

3.) Replaced the original Bowen water heater (10 gallon) with an Atwood (6 gallon) after the original tank sprang a leak. This required fabrication of a filler panel for the exterior coach as well as replacing the original vent shroud - - something that didn't distrub me as I always thought that the vent shroud looked out of place on such an aerodynamic shape.

4.) Installed new Dometic 3-Way RV Refrigerator to replace the apartment sized refrigerator installed by a previous ownerl. The 3-Way refrigerator supports running with propane turned off as the refrigerator functions superbly on 12-volt while underway.

5.) Replaced both roof vents with thermostatically controlled Fantastic Vents with rain sensors. This was a splurge, but is something that makes traveling with pets much more comfortable. In addition these vents make International Rallys more palletable except in the highest of humidity.

6.) Replaced the 12-volt electrical system with a Trace Inverter, 3 solar panels, electronic control panel, and three gel-cell batteries. This system allows me to go with out electric connections for a period of several days when air conditioning isn't required. AJL Solar handled this upgrade. Caravanning was a big reason that I took this path as I always worried about running short of battery power on the first two Vintage Airstream Club Caravans that I joined.

7.) Replaced the original PAR water pump with a new PAR pump as the original had too many problems to be rebuilt. The PAR is expensive and less readily available, but well worth the cost in my estimation.

8.) Replaced the original water tank with a custom tank sourced by my Airstream dealer. The original had sprung leaks along its seams resulting in wet floors if the tank was more than half full when the trailer was towed.

9.) Replaced the replacement toilet. The problem with this was that the previous owner really cobbled up the enclosure so the replacement posed something of a problem in obtaining an attractive end result.

10.) Replaced the original tongue jack with a new electric model. This was both a convenience move and a necessity as the original was displaying characteristics of stripped gears.

11.) Replaced original-style brakes with modern units facilitated by using "fully-loaded-backing plates". Since so many of the parts for the original brakes were either becoming obsolete or difficult to obtain that it seemed wiser to upgrade to the latest in modern equipment. In addition, all four drums were resurfaced and the shoes matched to their drums.

12.) Had damaged entrance door repaired. As with so many '60s coaches, my entrance door had blown open numerous times and required a significant amount of attention to produce a good seal.

13.) Replaced most of the window operators. These are becoming increasingly difficult to locate for some of the '60s coaches so I had my dealer replace any that were showing signs of wearing out.

14.) Replaced umbilical cord. This was preventative maintenance and in part was indicated because previous owners had made so many modifications that the existing cable just didn't seem sound.

15.) Replaced break-away switch. This again was normal maintenance.

16.) Professional restoration work included polishing and Plasticoat by P & S Trailer Service of Helena, Ohio; and interior refurbishment by Fowler Interiors of Symsonia, Kentucky.

17.) New Zip Dee awning to replace the original A & E Travel Awn 5000 that had damaged parts that were no longer available from A & E; and the repairs attempted resulted in an awning that was barely operable. While the coach was in for the main pation awning an awning was added over the bathroom window as well as one over the bedroom windows.

18.) Had rear end separation repaired as well as work on two outriggers. This was the result of having a rear bumper mounted spare tire for nearly 40 years (rear end seapartion). The issue with the outriggers wasn't as clear as they were the ones near the entry door and under the refrigerator.

At this point, my biggest remaining project is to have the axles replaced. My original axles are just barely within specifications so this must be done before making an extened journey with the coach.

With a Vintage Airstream, sometimes it is dfficult to draw a line between upgrades/mordernization, and what is required to keep the coach in safe, usable condition. I know that I tend to go a bit overboard with many projects as I know this coach will be with me for MANY years. I have a history with this coach dating back to when it was new and I was five years old.

Kevin

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Old 07-04-2003, 05:51 AM   #7
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Smile Thanks

Thanks for all the great replies!

Safari Time and 59toaster: I think you guys are right about the Univolt. I've read too many tales on this board of woe stemming from that device. I'm not so hung up on "originality" that I would hesitate to replace it if it becomes a problem.

63flyingcloud: I'm fortunate in that this trailer was very well maintained and updated where necessary by the P.O. I have yet to inspect running gear closely (it's 500 miles away from me at the moment and we won't take delivery for a few weeks), but the P.O. is a Airstream aficionado and used it regularly. Absolutely agree that the running gear is priority #1. I do know it has new tires, functioning lights, and updated LP tanks.

InsideOut: I was wondering about those glass windows. They seem delicate but on the other hand there were a fair number of 1960s models at the WBCCI International Rally this week with (apparently) original windows in them. So they can and do survive 30-40 years at least in some cases. But still, I think as a background project I will try to research some sources for replacements (even if custom made) and if I find a good source I will publicize it on this board. There's got to be somebody who can make a glass replacement ...

Overlander64: I think all that work you've done is great and before we even purchased we anticipated a similar list. But as it turned out, we bought a Caravel in what is supposed to be pretty decent condition (in other words, we bought from a guy like you who invested the time and money to get it done right). I only hope our 35-year old trailer doesn't get creative and find some new ways to cost us big bucks in the first year.

Another thought: we were told the Caravel has a older catalytic heater in it. Does anyone know if this is original equipment? The P.O. doesn't trust catalytics and I'm not sure if I do either, but since heat is an issue up here in Vermont I want to resolve this issue fairly early on.

As it turns out, my Caravel is probably a 1968 model, not 1967 as indicated in my profile. The external body style (window placement, rear lights, access doors) is identical to the 1968 and the dinette is canted (angled) in a way I've not seen in 1967 models. But the title says 1967 and so I'm going to do some research into the VIN to figure it out.

-- RL
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Old 08-09-2003, 06:21 AM   #8
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Hey Kevin,

Where did you get all that work done? I have made a note of the interior restorer but want to know who did all the other work.

I live in NC, still don't have my trailer, but I am anticipating needing recommendations closer than Inland RV.

What sort of interior work did you have done? and are you willing to say how much you have invested?

Your list of repairs is very helpful.

Thanks,

Connie
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Old 08-09-2003, 06:57 AM   #9
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Corning Windows

Here is a picture of those curved Corning windows for those who have never seen them.
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Old 08-20-2003, 10:24 PM   #10
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Most common problems with 1960s trailers?

Greetings Connie!

Quote:
Where did you get all that work done?
I worked with three vendors primarily:

Interior - - Fowler Interiors of Symsonia, KY (Henry and Arlene Fowler)

Polish and Plasticoat - - P & S Trailer Service, Helena, OH (Kevin and Steven Ruth) P & S Trailer Service

Mechanical and Systems Work - - Ace Fogdall RV, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Steve Oldani, Service Manager) Ace Fogdall RV

Bathroom Fixture Restoration - - A local contractor who was referred by my regular plumbing and heating contractor.

Quote:
What sort of interior work did you have done?
The interior restoration included all new foam, new innerspring mattresses, new upholstery, new drapes, refinishing all of the cabinetry, new floor coverings, restoring the free-standing dining table (new oak top and refinished base), sponge painting the walls and ceilings of the coach, and refinishing the bathroom fixtures.

Polish and Plasticoat included stripping the original coating, polishing the coach, and remedying a failed attempt by a previous owner at polishing as well as applying new Plasticoat and polishing the new Worthington Aluminum LP tanks.

Mechanical System Work included a new Coleman Mach III air conditioner, new Dometic 3-Way RV Refrigerator, new fresh water tank, new PAR water pump, new Atwood 6-gallon pilot type water heater, new water faucets in kitchen and bath, repairing outriggers near entry door, repairing separation at rear of trailer, new television antenn with booster and satellite prep features, new brakes, new break-away switch, new umbilical cord, repair to rearmost 3" of floor, and new Suburban Furnace.

AJ Solar installed my solar system (3-panels, controller, and Trace Inverter) at the Sioux Falls, SD International Rally.

Fantastic Vent installed two Fantastic Vent fans at the Bismarck, ND International Rally.

Various unique restoration parts were purchased from Inland RV as well as from Airstream Dreams.

Quote:
and are you willing to say how much you have invested?
My current investment in the Overlander is approaching $25,000. If it weren't for the fact that I have known this trailer since it was new, I wouldn't have invested this much. The coach is a "keeper" so I am not particularly worried about spending a bit more than it may be worth as it is still much less than the price of a new coach with the features that I would want.

Kevin
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Old 08-21-2003, 08:31 AM   #11
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Hey Kevin,

That is very helpful. We can get to KY and Ohio, just not to CA on the vacation timeframe I have now.

Also interesting to learn that the vendors do installs at the rallies.

This is helpful and encouraging. Our rig-to-be will be more than just something dragging along behind a truck; it'll be a second home for part of every year. So we will want to treat it right, too.

Thanks very much!

Connie

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