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Old 09-23-2009, 11:02 AM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
Burlington , Ontario
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Complete Overhaul '71 Sovereign

Hello knowledgeable airstreamers!

I have recently bought a 1971 31' Sovereign. So far I have removed all of the old cabinets and internal damaged furniture and am down to the rotten plywood flooring. The parts that are rotten pull up easily, but the parts that are still solid are causing me issues. It appears that the ply is screwed in from outside around the edge... Any advice on how to best get this out would be really appreciated..

Yesterday I went to a campground and flushed out the black water tank. I am planning on removing this as I am going to be parking the Airstream on some property that has a composting outhouse. (Somethings are better done outside in my opinion!) When I do take her on the road I will be staying in campgrounds have have comfort stations too. The tank I think I will be able to take out from above once the sub-floor is out.. Is this true? Same for the fresh water tank? I will be removing all of the plumbing and using the airstream as a place to sleep, eat, hang out I am use to heating water on a stove to do dishes in a pot anyway. (I camp often as I am a guide)

Once I manage to get the floor out I am thinking that I will replace the firbreglass insulation with Prodex.. This was recommended to me in another tread. Any one think other wise?

Rear end separation. I have heard it is common in rear bath units and I have it. Once the wall panels and flooring is up can I just take it into a welder and get him to go nut on it or what?

Seeings as every layer of this trailer I take out I find mouse presents! I never regret stripping it down and getting a shop vac in there to clean things out. This said I guess while I am at it I will remove the inside skin and replace the wiring to a 12V solar system just for lights and a radio ( and maybe a 12V outlet to charge a phone and ipod) and then re-insulate the walls with prodex too. This is where I would LOVE any advice as taking those nicely shaped panels off worry's me that I will never get them back on. Is it usual to put the same pannels back on? As mine are gross and it might be nicer to replace them with new... but with what material?

With these jobs done I would really like to put a small Wood stove in it. As well as a composting outhouse the land also has insane amounts of wood. Seems a pain to use propane in this case. Has anyone done this? And are they still alive? A propane wall heater salesman freaked me out about carbon monoxide and lack or oxygen... Am I going to die If I do this or is he just trying to make a sale!

I thank you all for any help you can offer in advanced. This forum has educated me so much so far from what I have been reading, so thanks to everyone for that. ( This forum even gave me the lingo to be able to knock the PO down to a reasonable price too!)

Cheers
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:57 AM   #2
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Lexington , Minnesota
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Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post
Hello knowledgeable airstreamers!
Quote:
Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post

I have recently bought a 1971 31' Sovereign. So far I have removed all of the old cabinets and internal damaged furniture and am down to the rotten plywood flooring. The parts that are rotten pull up easily, but the parts that are still solid are causing me issues. It appears that the ply is screwed in from outside around the edge... Any advice on how to best get this out would be really appreciated..
Yes, the plywood floor outside edges are held in a channel under the flat side walls. There are elevator bolts throughout the field of the plywood, and also through the c-channel and plywood. All of these fasten the floor to the frame, and the nuts are underneath. Eventually, either to remove the floor, or to install the new floor, you値l need to remove the belly pan. You will need to remove at least the lower inner skin to access the c-channels. Look for not only bolts, but also several screws that connect the c-channel to the floor. There are several threads in the forums regarding this entire process, two of them are:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f91/its-a-girl-31084.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f185/little-girl-refurb-50967.html

Little Girl Refurb is ours, and it痴 a work in progress. Currently at the floor replacement stage.


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Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post
Yesterday I went to a campground and flushed out the black water tank. I am planning on removing this as I am going to be parking the Airstream on some property that has a composting outhouse. (Somethings are better done outside in my opinion!) When I do take her on the road I will be staying in campgrounds have have comfort stations too. The tank I think I will be able to take out from above once the sub-floor is out.. Is this true? Same for the fresh water tank? I will be removing all of the plumbing and using the airstream as a place to sleep, eat, hang out I am use to heating water on a stove to do dishes in a pot anyway. (I camp often as I am a guide)


The black water tank you値l be able to remove from above. The fresh water tank will need to be removed from below unless you want to cut it in half. You値l see why once you pull up the floor over the top of it. The tank is actually underneath one of the cross ribs between the frames. If the tank is in good shape, you may want to at least offer it to another airstreamer as a replacement.

I personally would keep both the fresh water tank and black water tank. You may not use them, but a future owner may want them, and they are 1) hard to come be as a replacement, and 2) expensive if you can find them. You can simply keep the drain valve open on the black water tank and feed the sewage to your composting system.

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Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post
Once I manage to get the floor out I am thinking that I will replace the firbreglass insulation with Prodex.. This was recommended to me in another tread. Any one think other wise?


Yes, there are few people that have done this. We plan on using Prodex as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post
Rear end separation. I have heard it is common in rear bath units and I have it. Once the wall panels and flooring is up can I just take it into a welder and get him to go nut on it or what?


Depends on the damage done. Do a search on separation and you値l get some good ideas. If you池e a bit patient, you値l be able to see how I deal with when I pt the new rear floor back in Little Girl (hopefully this Fall still). The 的t痴 a Girl thread has ideas on dealing with this as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post
Seeings as every layer of this trailer I take out I find mouse presents! I never regret stripping it down and getting a shop vac in there to clean things out. This said I guess while I am at it I will remove the inside skin and replace the wiring to a 12V solar system just for lights and a radio ( and maybe a 12V outlet to charge a phone and ipod) and then re-insulate the walls with prodex too. This is where I would LOVE any advice as taking those nicely shaped panels off worry's me that I will never get them back on. Is it usual to put the same panels back on? As mine are gross and it might be nicer to replace them with new... but with what material?


They can clean up fairly well. If you decide to replace the inner skins, use aluminum sheet just like what was used before. The inner skin is required for strength if you ever move the trailer. Drilling the rivets out is fairly easy, but time consuming. There are a lot of them! Take your time and you should be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chromegnome View Post
With these jobs done I would really like to put a small Wood stove in it. As well as a composting outhouse the land also has insane amounts of wood. Seems a pain to use propane in this case. Has anyone done this? And are they still alive? A propane wall heater salesman freaked me out about carbon monoxide and lack or oxygen... Am I going to die If I do this or is he just trying to make a sale!


If you have a flame inside your trailer, you need to provide a fresh air source. In other words, if you do install a wood burning stove, and use it with all the windows closed, you値l end up killing yourself. Same with a wall mounted propane heater that does not have a fresh air intake and exhaust. Anything that uses a flame or catalytic method to produce heat consumes oxygen. I have seen wood burning stoves in trailers, so it can be done as long as you池e careful. Shop around and I think you can find wood burning stoves that have a fresh air intake. Weight might be an issue as well, so you may need to beef up the floor underneath the stove depending on what you install. And of course, keep all combustable stuff well away from it.

Take your time, and pretty much anything can be done. All a matter of time and money. Read the 的t痴 a Girl Thread completely and you値l get a wealth of ideas and help. It has been an inspiration for many people, including us.

Good luck!

Chris
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Old 09-23-2009, 02:57 PM   #3
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1971 31' Sovereign
Burlington , Ontario
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Thanks Chris.

So if I remove the belly pan and then undo all the bolts and screws in the c channel will that then mean the entire shell is loose or only that the floor plywood will slide out?

When I reached the black water tank today, I found a huge crack running right across the top. I think this may have be done by the PO installing a new toilet and may be the reason there was a nasty smell at the back of the trailer!

The fresh water tank (what I can see of it) looks great and I will for sure move it onto another airstreamer if I can't re-use it myself.

I will read more into the separation issues. I don't think it is all that major.

So basically to move and re-insulate the trailer I need to remove the inside skin and old insulation first. Then the Belly Pan. This will give me access to remove the c channel bolts and screws to free up and remove the ply. Then I can prodex the floor, put down new marine ply, re-bolt the c-channel to the floor, re-skin the inside with new aluminum and then move onto internal cosmetic things.. does that sound about right?

Thanks again for the advice. This Airstream has made me the coolest kid on the block. All the men around the neighbourhood have all come over to see what it's all about, many of them now living vicariously thorough me!
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Old 09-23-2009, 05:31 PM   #4
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ont , Ontario
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if you haven't seen this thread yet, you might find it interesting:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f462...ove-44907.html
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Old 09-23-2009, 05:57 PM   #5
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If you need to hurry (and the trailer condition supports it) and get the floor in without the full pan removal you can remove the trim band and drill out the rivets on the wraps and allow them to sag to get access to the channel fasteners; when the flooring is out there is access to insulate the flooring sections you remove.

Replacing the five-foot wide aluminum sheets under the main ladder frame is not a ninety minute chore... well, maybe the second or third time...
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Old 09-23-2009, 07:44 PM   #6
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1972 31' Sovereign
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So if I remove the belly pan and then undo all the bolts and screws in the c channel will that then mean the entire shell is loose or only that the floor plywood will slide out?
Once you remove all of the bolts and screws in the c-channels, the shell will be free from the floor and frame. This can lead to unwanted movement of the shell if you're not careful. The side c-channels are actually 1 "C" and 1 "U". The U faces up, and the ribs are inside the U, with the skins riveted to the inside or outside of the ribs and U to hold everything together. The plywood slips into the C portion, which is underneath the U and faces toward the inside. The bottom of the C rests on top of the outriggers and once the bolts are removed, and the plywood is removed, they can slip off the outrigger, which is a bad thing. Very bad thing if one side falls off several of the outriggers. That痴 why as you remove the plywood, you should have scraps of 1x3 or 1x4, or scraps of セ inch plywood handy, along with some clamps. Slip the 1x4 into the c-channel at each outrigger, and clamp the 1x4 to the top of the outrigger. A screw through the c-channel into the 1x4 can help add insurance that the c-channel will not fall off the outrigger while you work on the frame. This is what we did, and it痴 also why I did not take the entire floor out at one time.

The front and rear c-channels do not have the lower 鼎 part. Just the U, which sits on top of the plywood.

Take it slow and carefully, and you'll be ok. You have an overall concept of what needs to be done - which is half the battle sometimes!

Chris
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:53 AM   #7
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1971 31' Sovereign
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you can remove the trim band and drill out the rivets on the wraps
Firstly, thanks wabbiteer for your imput. So the trim band is fairly obviously the silver with blue strip band around the lower outside, right? What are the Wraps? Is that the curved lower section of exterior aluminum?

Quote:
Replacing the five-foot wide aluminum sheets under the main ladder frame is not a ninety minute chore... well, maybe the second or third time...
Are you suggesting that I replace the belly pan? If so and the pan is actually okay.. there would be no need to change it right?
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:15 PM   #8
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Yup, the curved lower section of exterior aluminum and corners could collectively be called the belly / banana wraps - and their top edges are weather protected by the trim strip - belly band...

If one does not remove the 'wrap' rivets under the trailer along the main ladder frame rails the 'wraps' can be forced top drape down somewhat like flower petals - I've seen blogs where that was successful and keeping the parts 'keyed' in; and re-installing as soon as possible could help keep morale up even if its harder to work around by leaving them partially attached.

Not suggesting you change out the main under panels, re-install (replace) if you drop (remove) the ones existing down under there now. It takes some skill to accurately position blind rivets in a fresh sheet of aluminum, special tools or excellent dead reckoning (chalk line, slight dimple with hammer to sound out edges etc.) to keep drilled bores in the iron spars...

I found corrosion had cut the pans sheet metal cleanly around 3 out of 4 rivets underneath my '73 - many places the belly sheet was corrosion welded in place with only aluminum oxide left outside the wide-flange rivets. I have replacement sheet but if I were to reuse the old ones I would be adding either a batten strip (40mm wide strip of sheet metal) or wide aluminum washers.
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Old 09-24-2009, 08:49 PM   #9
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I didn't take off the belly pan...

I'm finishing up the replacement of the subflooring in my '68 Sovereign and I did not take the bellypan off. I guess that's cheating, but we're almost done. I took the interior lower skin off and then broke all of the bolts off with vice grips (if they didn't come easily I used my dremel). My U channel was held down by evil little staples also...very evil little staples. But I definitely agree that you should do whatever you can to not let the frame sag - ours did a little and luckily we were parked close enough to the side of our house where I could push the side in - we had an interesting time with the door frame, too - fair warning!

Oh, and a trick to the elevator bolts - 1/4"-3/8" drill bit on a good powerful drill. Drill out the center (watch for smoke - don't force it, just let it cool down in between bouts). Once you're down about 3/16" you'll be able to knock those bolts straight through. We're using floor anchoring screws from above for reinstallation - they go through the wood and self tap into the metal below.
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