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Old 02-23-2018, 08:26 AM   #1
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
My Overlander Rebuild

I am going to need somewhere to keep my thoughts straight and this forum is dead so I'll try to document my rebuild of the 1969 Overlander we bought a few weeks back.

We have been wanting a 27-31 foot airstream for a few years but couldn't find one we like within our budget. The prices kept going up and we realized that we weren't going to buy one sight unseen and we couldn't be driving hours and hours from home just to see one. That puts too much pressure on us to buy it since we've already invested so much time. We looked at some locally and most were scams or dented up gut jobs that had been sitting for years. We found one from a couple that we liked that had been used recently. Even though we really wanted one, it's hard to understand how the systems work and what to look for until I have some hands on experience. I read tons of stuff but since I've never had a travel trailer, I just wasn't sure what it all meant. We decided to buy this one even though we knew it was going to need quite a bit of work. I wish I had understood it a little more but nothing I can do about that now. Time to get to work and fix the broken stuff and get this thing back on the road.

Its a little rough and not stock but I think I can work with it.











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Old 02-23-2018, 08:47 AM   #2
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
Time to start the teardown. At first we weren't sure how much we were going to do but as I learned more, I realized I'll never be happy if we don't gut it and make everything work and make sure the frame is safe.

It is missing the fresh water tank, grey water tank (they used an external one), the furnace doesn't work, not sure about the water heater. It seems to be missing some gas connections. So lots to do here. It does have a pretty new Dometic AC but my wife hates how noisy it is. Not sure what I can do about that. Has lots of new pex piping so that is good. Has a new converter and a few other things.

Got it home and here are the full body shots.



Here you can see the main dent I'll have to deal with. It seems isolated to one panel so that is good. I was a airframe tech in the army so I've spent plenty of time doing sheetmetal work so this repair shouldn't be too bad.



The front had a pretty weak bench area that their kids slept on. It was fine but we want a nice wrap around bench and table.



After removing it, we can see where the water tank was.



It has a decent electric refrigerator so we will probbaly re-use it.



Someone had removed the original beds and rebuilt some twins in the back with some 2x3. We want a full bed so we'll be changing that.



Lot of small issues. Trim on windows is missing or falling off.



Here is the cabinet and sink. The non working furnace is under here too. My might re-use this.

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Old 02-23-2018, 10:43 AM   #3
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
Join Date: May 2015
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Jeremy, it may seem overwhelming, but you eat an elephant one bite at a time. A few years ago we purchased our 66 and had no idea on what things were. We dove in and read here on the forums what each component and device was. It may seem overwhelming, but one item at a time and develop an overall game plan. Good luck and ask questions when needed. The trailer looks great. Bubba
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Old 02-23-2018, 01:14 PM   #4
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
I appreciate that.

Money is really the only thing that concerns me about the size of the project.

I have already learned a ton. We originally thought we'd be able to piece this thing together and start having fun but now we understand why the systems work the way they do and the importance of making sure all those 12v/110v, plumbing and gas are. I was thinking, who needs gas or 12v??. Man do I see now how useful all that is. I have already gutted most of the interior. Just need to get more pics. The subfloor had some rot by the front door and that was repairers. The rest of it is looking pretty good. My main thing is to see how bad the frame is. I would love to not have to remove the shell but I'll do what I have to.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:45 AM   #5
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1970 27' Overlander
West Salem , Ohio
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 75
Doing great! We also got ourselves a project! 70 Overlander. She's gutted unfortunately due to green owners and sending her away for repairs only to come back with horrible work. Anywho, one stated above it's one bite at a time when eating an elephant! Will love to see what you do and come up with repair and design wise and maybe be able to share a few ideas! Good luck !!
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:05 PM   #6
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Hello from Colorado: Maybe you've been working on your 69 Overlander these last several months. My son has a 69 Globetrotter 21', three sizes smaller than your 27'. You can spot a 69 from the square corner wing windows in front. This was the only year Airstream used them. And 69 was the first year of the new body style. We built a U shaped dinette in the Globetrotter which makes into a large sleeping area and works well for the son.

You have a big project on your hands. It should be a lot of fun getting this vintage trailer back in action. Make a plan, take your time, and as mentioned, one step at a time.

I have a 75 Overlander that I've been working on this winter. The interior was in pretty good shape as well as the rest of the trailer. It is a twin bed layout also. I have it rather torn apart right now, but I have started some reassembly of the bath.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
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Old 05-23-2018, 01:14 PM   #7
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
Edit:
This was originally after the next post, but I mistakenly didn't submit the other one.

One other quick note is that after taking off the rear interior cap, I was able to push out the dent in the rear. It isn't perfect but I think I can get a little more out with some work.
Before:


After:


I have plenty of other small body dings that I will work on but this was my biggest concern so that is a win for me.
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Old 05-23-2018, 01:16 PM   #8
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
Thanks for the replies. I've been reading both our your builds and posts over the last few months. We love the U shaped dinette and plan on doing that too. We'll also be adding a slide out bed in the rear that should become a full. Well that was the original plan anyway. Now that I am going all the way, I might try to relocate the bathroom and move to a rear bed. We'll see.

I have been working on it but with work it goes slower than I'd like. One of the issues is that when I am earning about one thing, I go down a rabbit hole on another topic. I have been doing better about that now that I am squarely focused on the frame work.

I have it basically gutted. The only thing in it is the wiring, front fiberglass end cap and the heater. I've removed all the plumbing, LP and black tank. here was no grey tank (not sure if that is normal).



I removed a previous floor repair by the front door that was done wrong. They had just cut out the rotted wood and slapped a new piece in. It was notched for the C Channel bolts instead of connected and wasn't joined to the rest of the floor. Anyway, removing that have me my first look at the frame and it wasn't pretty.



In the last few days, I've removed the rear banana wrap and trim. I could see some pretty bad frame rust then. I cut out the rotted floor and yanked it out. The black tank was under it so I removed it.



As you can see, they used that mesh metal to hold the tank in. I can't imagine that was original since it adds a ton of extra weight to the rear.

The cross members actually look decent but the frame rails are toast. Here is the curb side.



Road side isn't quite as bad but it is still going to need a lot of work.

I was hoping not to have to remove the shell but everything I read from someone that didn't says they basically wish they had. I'll probably just bite the bullet and go for it unless I decide to get really impatient.
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Old 05-24-2018, 04:25 AM   #9
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1956 22' Safari
Williston , Vermont
Join Date: Sep 2017
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Jeremy, welcome to the world of vintage Airstream restoration.

Bubba, a couple of posts back, had some very relevant words of wisdom, "You eat an elephant one bite at a time". I repeat those words at least once a day. I went through the same decision sequence you're going through.

Our trailer had just had the complete floor replaced before we bought it. We thought this was an interior only update. Only they didn't remove the remnants of a large mouse colony and it stunk. After pulling the floor and cleaning up the mess, we thought we could do a shell on. Looking more closely at the frame it became apparent it should be a shell off. Now it has morphed into a frame replacement, as there was more bad frame than good. Chances are your's will be no where near that bad.

You will have a great trailer when you are done which should even be worth quite a bit when you sell. But more important will be your piece of mind knowing it is essentially a new trailer when you are towing it. If you don't look, you don't know.

One bite at a time.....
Mark
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Old 05-24-2018, 06:55 AM   #10
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1970 27' Overlander
Poteau , Oklahoma
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 25
Yes, Jeremy it is one bite at a time on these things. And sometimes you can work on these things and it seems like you did not get anything done. Then the next time things go like clockwork. I prefer to think of one of these restorations in terms of hundreds of mini projects.
For instance yesterday I did a shutdown on my brake lights. The sockets were corroded and would not hold the bulbs tight causing my brake lights bulbs to sometimes need a little wiggle. After cleaning, polishing lenses, making gaskets, sanding painting the round housing, riveting in new sockets after trying to solder or braze them on to an epic fail and having to start over took up an entire day on 4 stinking lights and 2 reflectors. I was kinda disgusted about it but then I know the next time I work on it things go better.
I got lucky as my floor is still solid after all these years except the back 2 inches under the back end cap and two hand size rots under the front corners of the triple windows.
My frame is in excellent condition other than some rear sag just starting and a corroded galvanized black water pan that I will have to address as a project when I have the time.
In my case a frame off would be silly but in yours I think that would be the way to go.
Im like you that pink would have to go. LOL
Hope you enjoy your project and you learn a ton along the way. I think you will really enjoy the size of your Overlander, to me those and the Tradewinds are the perfect tradeoff, especially for a modern redo.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:31 AM   #11
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
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Mark,
Your story about thinking it was an interior only restore that turns in to much more seems to be pretty common. We talked to someone locally that bought a supposedly fully restored trailer and they paid quite a bit for it. If I recall something like $40K. They soon realized the sub floor had some hidden rot and then had to strip the beautiful brand new interior out to fix it. I am trying to make sure that anything that needs to be done is done and that it is done right. I have anice checklist that I am going through and I'm sure I'll miss something but I have been adding more over the last few weeks. It should be pretty complete. I checked out your restore and hope you post lots of details on the frame work.

Cowdiddly,
Sounds like you got a really good platform. Can't say mine is that solid but it will be. The one task at a time sure is hard. I am working on getting the shell off but also keep getting distracted by the other thing like my bad windows. I mentioned above my spreadsheet so I am trying to be better about only having one item "Work In Progress" at a time. Hopefully that helps me.
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:32 AM   #12
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
I have been working to get the shell ready to lift off. One thing you'll notice is that I haven't removed all the electrical. The reason is that I haven't had time to trace and label all the wires and I want to be able to work on that while the frame is off too. I have an idea of how the split electrical system works but I want to use this to get a better grasp of it.

Finally got it all cleaned out in there.




The furnace was a pain to get out. The flange was rusted tight and didn't want to come out. Used a ton of PB Blaster, let it sit and then just wiggled until it broke looks. Doesn't look like I damaged the skin it was attached to.


I was afraid to remove the front end cap since I want to reuse it but I realized I couldn't get a good brace on the shell with it there so it had to come out.



Started building some bracing to lift the shell off.

Bracing is in progress and all the outer rivets for the banana wraps and skin are out.


Really hoping to get the AC out today/tomorrow and then get teh shell off by the weekend.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:10 AM   #13
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
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AC came out nice and easy yesterday. Also finished up the bracing for the shell lift off. Hope to have some good separation shortly.
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Old 06-05-2018, 09:50 PM   #14
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1969 27' Overlander
Dripping Springs , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 17
We spent all day on Sunday separating the shell. I was worn out working in the heat. It was just me and my wife so it's a lot for the two of us. That front end just did not want to come off. We finally got it loose but it was getting late so we had to leave it like this:



I am stuck on a huge project this week but I am thinking I'll be able to finish up tomorrow. Just need to raise the front about 10 more inches.

I was thinking this is the hardest part physically so it's going to be nice to get done. Can't wait to get to work on the frame.
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