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Old 05-15-2010, 03:23 PM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Where do I begin??

Greetings fellow Airstream adventurers!
My name is Dan, father of 3 boys, all under 7 years old . Im 37, live if south florida, and rehabbed my home, entirely.
For the past several years my dream was to purchase an Airstream, refurb, and travel the country. Recently we picked up a 72 Sovereign, Land Yacht. We are soo excited, but, at the same time, have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us... This puppy, needs everything! Here is what I can see.
Interior-
Flooring is rooted
Bathroom is "literally" falling out the back.
Bathroom is in terrible condition
Needs all new fans, electric, kitchen, etc. The prior owner gutted. Thinking about IKEA products.
Needs 3 Bunk beds installed.
Windows have moisture, cloudiness.
Exterior-
Polish
Tanks are falling out of the center, and rear. Fresh/Black
Dents in from and rear, roughly Frisbee sized.
Shocks
Underbelly lining-How I even begin this?
Repair de-lamination in back.
New lights, wiring.
Possibly new shocks, and axles.
That's just the big stuff.
My thinking was to tackle the floor, pull it out, along with the rear restroom, then have a look at the floor, and fram. Under where the stove was, the frame is loose, and gives when bounce on it slightly.
My concern was that im hearing the floor is interlocked, and don't want to cause irreversible damage, or possibly not place it back together, correctly. Question, can i just pull out the floor, or is there a method? Secondly, the bathroom, its falling out the back! Where do I begin, its rusted from the frame, so, a new reinforced frame is needed, then assembly of floor, etc.
As i reveiw the site, im seeing alot of discussions, but if someone has a step by step method to removing the floor, or, do/donts when beginning this? Here are some questions with the floor. Is the floor connected with the walls? Do I cut an inch from the walls, not to disturb the walls? Once I remove, is there an exact way to replace, or can i just lay down the wood, overlapping, on the floor frame?
I have so many question, but at the moment, looking for some good advice, on what to begin with. Thanks so much! Hope to see you at a rally soon!!!
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:35 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum,looks like you have a long road ahead,hope you didn`t pay too much for it .
You can google most of the things you need to do,go to the search function here,use google,keep it short [floor replace Airstream],I`m sure you will get plenty of hits.
Sounds like it would be easier to do a shell off. Dave
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:49 PM   #3
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Welcome, you might start here.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ent-17197.html
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:09 PM   #4
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Thanks Guys, for your quick response. Paid 1200 for it..May have been to much...Shell off? Hmm. Let me look into this? Thanks!!
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:13 PM   #5
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Welcome Dan and My Three Sons,

Good to see you've established your list. Drying things in and floor repair are the two top priorities on my list. While you're in the floor it pays to evaluate the frame outriggers and rear half of the frame for corrosion and tail sag.

Plenty of experienced members here who are more than willing to share their thoughts and experience.

Keep us posted on your progress.

Kevin
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #6
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Dan,
You're in a similar situation as the one I was in when I bought my 61 Ambassador a few years ago. We have 3 boys and a daughter, with the ages ranging from 4 years old to 13. I have not worked on houses much, but have done lots of work on cars and motorcycles, so I have some basic skills that help me out tremendously. Since you've rehabbed a house, i'm sure you have skills that will come in handy as well.
My first suggestion is to forget about camping this year, and maybe next year, too. Unless you have a tent or another camper, that is. Commit yourself to tearing the Airstream apart, fixing what needs to be fixed, and when you get to the "aluminum tent" stage you can start thinking about camping. I started out by tearing out the back half of the trailer, fixed the floor and frame damage, rebuilt the bathroom with custom cabinets from Frank's Trailer Works, installed a floating cork floor, then went camping for 1 weekend. As soon as I got home, I started on the front half of the trailer. I hope to have it back to campable condition by the end of June for the Birthday Bash at Baker's Acres, but I'm going to have to push to make that happen.
My point is that you have to look at the restoration of one of these things as an enjoyable part of the Airstream ownership experience. Get your wife's input on things, have your boys learn how to rivet, and get the entire family involved from the very beginning. We all look forward to the day when our Airstream is completely finished and we can take it on the road for a big adventure, but for now we're enjoying the process of bringing it back to life.
Check out my blog to see how we've done it. Click back to the beginning of it and you can see our progress.

Best of luck. Have fun.
1961 Airstream Restoration

John and Laurie
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Old 05-16-2010, 01:05 PM   #7
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Thanks! This forum rocks!

Here are some pictures for reference. Great suggestion on the dry-in, and foundation. Going to begin pulling out the interior today, starting with the restroom, cabinets, etc. Hope to have some progress pics, soon... Cheers! And ohh, 1-2 years, ouch..Great suggestion, RoverOwner, (btw, we have a Land Rover ,)on getting the family involved, already got the boys psyched on being rivet gun shooters! As for the honey, she is already in gear for a "minimalist/tropic", interior layout. Chat soon, my new buds...
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Old 05-16-2010, 01:11 PM   #8
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Airstreamdad,

Welcome to the airforums. You definitely found the right place for answers. I haven't done anything like this, but the idea of shell off would certainly make it easier to access everything and most likely make the project go faster.
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Old 05-16-2010, 01:15 PM   #9
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Pic...Ohhhh, the love of deconstruction!!

Didn't attach this on the prior update.
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:13 PM   #10
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Hey Dan - welcome to the forums! Wow, looks like you have a bigger project ahead of you than we took on. If you have the room and skills, a shell off floor and frame repair looks like it might be the way to go in your case. We did a shell on floor replacement (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f185/little-girl-refurb-50967.html), but it looks like you have a bunch more damage on the rear than we encountered. In fact, I don't see a rear bumper at all! And the box that holds the black water tank is certainly in need of replacement, as well as the brackets that hold it up. And a fairly good portion of the rear frame as far as I can tell from the pictures.

But this is definitely the place to learn how to do what you’re doing as well as ask a ton of questions. And build a following! We all love progress pictures and updates!

Good luck with your project!

Chris
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:13 AM   #11
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1972 31' Sovereign
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WOW...Lots of frame demage!!!

Greetings All,

We have all the cabinets out. Tomorrow we are going to take the inner skin off. Looks like its a shell off process. Im struggling on which is the best way, im seeing several ways, but still unclear on how to best support the shell, slide the frame out, and let sit for several days. I have tons of video, but having problems posting to the site. Im likly going to upload to youtube then link to the site.
If anyone has any suggestions with supporting the shell, please forward.
Here is the list of demage.
1. Front crossbeam to frame, right,totally seperated.
2. Door crossbeam, seperated at frame, right side.
3. Crossbeam that kitchen sits on, cooked...
4. Frame behind/rear of wheel well, dips 3 inches, and seems to be seperated.
5. Rear end is totally demaged, and needs new outriggers, and frame work.

Question.
Should I leave all the wiring intact, or should I re-run new electrical?
Modification Question.
I think it would be really cool to modify the rear so that the back lifts at the seam, and bottom would drop, and create a tow hauler area. Similar to the new airstreams. We have bikes, backpacks, etc. (3 boys under 7) I thought this would be really cool to create. Any links or suggestions.

Also, is it easier to clean the skins while they are still on or once they are out.
Lastly, I plan to use some duck tape to cross over the seams of the skins, then draw a line, so that when I reapply the skins, they line up exactly.
Any other suggestions?
Thanks, and as soon as I can get my images out of my cam, I will post.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:31 PM   #12
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Skins out, now the floor...

The skins are removed, hard work, in the South Florida sun...Took 2 days...Here are some pics. Im ready to start removing the floor. But not sure the most effective way.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:36 PM   #13
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More skin removal pictures

Work completed yesterday...
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Old 06-19-2010, 05:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreamdad View Post
Should I leave all the wiring intact, or should I re-run new electrical?

Depends on the condition of the wiring and if you’re going to make major modifications to where things were placed (outlets, lights, number of circuits, etc.). If you’re going to leave things basically the same, and the wiring is all good, then you can re-use it. But carefully check the wiring for critter chewed on places, and replace anything that looks iffy.

We are in the process of rewiring our ’72 Sovereign. New 110 VAC and new 12 VDC wiring throughout. So far, we’ve spent just a tad over $250 on the new wire, and I have 3 12VDC circuits still to get new wire for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreamdad View Post
I think it would be really cool to modify the rear so that the back lifts at the seam, and bottom would drop, and create a tow hauler area. Similar to the new airstreams. We have bikes, backpacks, etc. (3 boys under 7) I thought this would be really cool to create. Any links or suggestions.

Probably not a good idea. First off, the ‘72 frame you have is only 5” C-channel, not a box frame. It’s pretty limited to what you can safely add for weight. Then you have the axels to consider, even if you beef up the frame. If memory serves from other threads on axels, the original ones were rated for 3200 lbs. New ones can be put on that are rated for 3500 lbs without modifying the frame. My understanding is larger axels would require frame modifications. Then there’s the structure you’d need to add to support the clam shell opening, and making sure it sealed well while closed. One last point – the shell is what supports the rear of the frame on the early 70’s airstreams. Your modification would pretty much eliminate that support, and it would therefore require additional frame support.


Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreamdad View Post
Also, is it easier to clean the skins while they are still on or once they are out.

Kay cleaned ours outside once we took them off. Laid them on the grass, and got 2 of our grandchildren to help her scrub them down. I know others have cleaned them while attached inside in the trailer. I think it’s whatever works the best for you.

Chris
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Old 06-19-2010, 05:15 PM   #15
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I stumbled across this thread---and quickly went to go look at something else...pretending I never saw it. ha! Good luck with all that work folks!
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:02 PM   #16
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We're still doing the Great Debate about what to reinsulate with: have you had any thoughts on that one? Prodex would be great if we could afford it: post daughters wedding we're pretty poor right now! We're actually debating between the pink fiberglass and doing the bubble stuff or maybe a combo of the two.....
Yeah, skins were "fun" to take off! Our trailer had been infested with mice, etc. for many years and the insulation was full of their leavings. Great! Luckily, I'm not squeamish and can drill out rivets with the best of 'em, so I was able to work on it with Chris and get them all out in a day. I used an orange based cleaner to wash the inner skins on the grass once we had them out, and scrubbed with a long handled scrub brush. Grandkids "helped". I was soaked when we were done! Now the inner skins are stored in the garage until we can get them back in, hopefully by the end of summer.
Probably tackle that pretty green fresh water tank soon - not supposed to be green....

Kay
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