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Old 11-28-2004, 10:27 AM   #1
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'78 31' Sovereign

Once more, it's time to "Out" myself here on the Forums -

With my 1000th post since joining on Feb. 5th, 2003, I announce my new WIP (Work In Progress) - Airstream #2 - a '78 31' Sovereign.

No name yet, will let her character develop and hopefully she will name herself.

One thing I have found out, a '78 International trailer is a HECK of a lot easier to work on than the '87 345 Motor Home.

In less than a day I had the entire front cabin and bedroom interior pretty much gutted for floor damage inspection and cleanup.....Most of the areas likely to fail require this much demolition for proper rot-area inspection.

No surprises so far - a really solid unit.
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:01 AM   #2
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Dennis,

I still miss my 77 31 Sovereign. The trailers ARE easier to work on that the MH's But I would say you are looking at two very different periods when it comes to manufacturing methods and design. Personally I like the 70's much better than the 80's models.

Are you planning on re-installing the twins or are you going to go with a Queen in the rear? Ours had a East/West double that I enlarged to a Queen.
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
..... The trailers ARE easier to work on that the MH's But I would say you are looking at two very different periods when it comes to manufacturing methods and design. Personally I like the 70's much better than the 80's models....
It is, infact, difficult to compare the two. The '78 trailer is very light construction, mostly aluminum, pressboard, and plastics (but a plywood floor). The Motor Home exhibits a much more substantial wood interior construction - in my opinion - much more aesthetic, but much heavier and more difficult to work on.



Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
..... Are you planning on re-installing the twins or are you going to go with a Queen in the rear? Ours had a East/West double that I enlarged to a Queen.
Certainly, I will retain the hardware and cabinets for the twins, but right now I am seriously considering making the entire bedroom a "bed". The existing mattresses could be retained, and a 30" "filler mattress" could be fitted between the two original twin mattresses. I envision that duvetts could be utilized for sleeping (sheets and covers), making the bed easy to make up and eliminating the "odd sized" sheets that would be required by a conventional bed. Right now, it looks as if I could go the "full bed" scenario by incorporating the existing bed supports, and only removing (not reinstalling) the night stand at the very rear of the trailer.

As indicated above, the trailer construction is "all open", and much more suited for modification to individual tastes than is the '87 345.

I do, however, like much more the "classic" exterior of the Motor Home - external buttressed sliding windows and doors with rain/drip guards (as opposed to "flat" panels).

Two entirely different beasts - but certainly each has their own advantages.
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Old 11-29-2004, 11:44 AM   #4
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Project Snowball….

So.....

As I cleaned, little things were happening - If I removed the curtains and took them to a dry cleaner they would look a lot better - since I had the curtains out, might as well (it (the snowball) starts to accelerate here) replace those funky venetian blinds - oh, and those pull blind mounts - got to go.

It gets worse - now that the drapes are out - easy to get both of the bed mattresses out - hey, the mattress covers are removable - take them to the cleaners too. By this time I can see the entire area around the rear save for the area behind the nightstand. Hmmmm…three screws on each side, and the nightstand is out – well, except for the three screws that need to come out on the side of the bed…..two more screws on each side and the entire bed frame and storage is outside.

Now, for the front, need to thoroughly inspect the floor around the battery – gaucho needs to be removed to get the front console out – a couple of more screws and the entire gaucho frame is removed so almost all of the floor is exposed. Side arms are only held in by a couple of screws – they are on the lawn now, also.

The entire carpet can now be removed – wonder how much a Berber remnant would set me back – except for the table – four more screws and the table is leaning up against a tree.

By this time I have recruited help to clean the interior – I was amazed at how good it looked initially, and how much dirt and crud came out of it.

I was pretty sure I had a solid trailer, but now I KNOW how solid it really is……note to everyone – to really inspect the “problem” areas a LOT of “stuff” needs to be removed – can’t do an adequate job in an hour or two.

No frame off reflooring needed on this one.

Found one split copper pipe, and no pump is in existence. Tanks and electricals still need to be tested.
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Old 11-29-2004, 12:00 PM   #5
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Sounds like a case of "the might as wells"

Here is a hint on the pump.

On the model you have there the pump "should" be on an aluminum shelf right under the sink, attached to the wall exterior wall. If it was original it would have been a PAR pump. There is an in line fuse to the pump, I would check there first if the pump exists at all.
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Old 11-29-2004, 12:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
On the model you have there the pump "should" be on an aluminum shelf right under the sink, attached to the wall exterior wall. If it was original it would have been a PAR pump.

Thanks, Brett

It "looked" like the pump should have been plumbed into the pressure relief/city water connection under the road side closet false bottom, just inboard from the wheel well. There are a couple of open pipe connections there and I just assumed that that is where the pump was located - but now that you mention the sink area, I do not remember any electrical connection in the closet.

I'll give the sink area another look - PAR pump for sure originally, one of the PO's left a "new" drive belt in a blister pack in one of the drawers, of course the receipt that was stapled to it indicated a purchase from the '80's.

It gets dark now about the time I get home, but I think I will try to fire up the electric system - maybe the darkness will help - makes the sparks easier to see .
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Old 01-08-2005, 07:47 PM   #7
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Good Weekend for Work

Update on the '78 Sovereign

What a Great Weekend here in Houston.

Put the trailer up on 2X12 ramps - raised it a total of 6" - plenty of room to get under it and work. - 2X12's cut at 45-degree angles on the approach side made more than adequate ramps.

The Belly Pan was not really secured very well, so with the removal of just a few screws and rivets it was ready to roll back - the gas lines came off with not too much trouble.

Good news under the belly pan - no significant corrosion or water damage - a bit of historical rodent activity evidence in the insulation - could have happened any time in the last 28 years.

The belly pan itself was in excellent shape - just some wear at the attach points.

Also good news with the perimeter inspection of the wood - no rot at all in the forward perimeter - only damage to the wood floor is about a half of a square foot where the battery evidently boiled over.

While I had the 4" grinder out dressing the belly fasteners I got rid of most of the multiple layers of paint on the tongue and removed the battery access door and the Univolt vent hood casting (cleaning up the front).
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:59 PM   #8
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Project Update

Finished peeling back the forward belly pan and loosening the banana wrap from the frame.....no repairs required but what a NASTY job....sections of the main frame insulation and almost all of the banana wrap insulation were truely gross.

The pic is before I touched up all of the surface rust with Rust-O-Leum.

The black "Wall" visible behind the last cross frame member is the Potable Water Tank bulkhead - this is as far rearward as the forward belly pan goes.

Found one of the step pivot bolts sheared, the belly pan and banana wrap reinstallation will have to wait until the step repair is completed.
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Old 02-06-2005, 06:15 PM   #9
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Progress - and One Step Backward

Finished cutting out the bad floor under the Gaucho caused by the battery acid. (Picture #1)

***Note to self.....Batteries INSIDE could be a bad thing - mount the battery on the tongue.....

Installed a 3/4" 7 ply full floor panel under the 1/2" original floor in the spare tire area (Pic # 2), cut matching 1/2" 5 ply plywood to fill in cut out area - everything securely screwed into place.

Last pic - a "gotcha" - can you say Cherry-Max-Rivet?

Ran into a couple of these when removing the Battery Access Door -
(No interior battery - won't need the door - would have had a devil of a time making the thing waterproof.)
Cherry Max rivets have a carbon steel inner core - makes for a really nasty drill out. The compressed stems shown in the last photograph are actually holding themselves perpindicular to a magnet - either they are carbon stemmed or Airstream has invented Magnetized Aluminum.....
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Old 02-16-2005, 05:24 PM   #10
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Starting Exterior Repairs

Finally got started on the exterior - below are the before and after of the driverside front corner.....and a shot of the inside after I bucked the rivets on the overlay.
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Old 03-01-2005, 07:22 PM   #11
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Movin' Right Along

Had a good weekend -

Finished the repair and painting of the front end cap.
For pictures and discussions see this thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...ad.php?t=15656

First pic - started installation of the new battery wires to the forward battery box - the wire is a 4 guage automotive (multi-fine strand) type. The damage to the front floor was caused by the battery being installed on the inside. The "Plastic Drawer" was cracked beyond all hope of repair, and allowed the battery acid and rain water coming into the battery compartment to contact the plywood floor. Mounting the battery on the forward A-frame will eliminate the liquid and acid gas problems of having a battery installed in the interior. BTW, the 28 year old battery wires exhibited quite a bit of corrossion at the fuse terminal bar. Even though the screws were tight, I am sure the corroded connection was taking a bit of voltage potential from the battery.

The second pic is of me welding the rear battery box supports to the A-Frame. 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" X 1/8" aluminum angle will run across the A-Frame in two places between the supports (just behind the LPG bottles), and a marine type of battery box will contain the battery. Note the door on the forward curb side of the trailer. This was the original battery position. I cut a piece of .040 aluminum to install in place of the door, but decided to remount the door to utilize the space for storage for docking and hitching accessories. I cut out the interior portion of my "patch" aluminum in order to use it as a gasket. The original door was sealed by the plastic battery box, which had long since disintegrated by the time I had purchased the trailer, and the aluminum gasket was necessary to get the door assembly to seal. As it was, I had to redo the hinge mount and grind about 1/4" off of the top of the door to help make the thing "waterproof". I still have to install a rubber door gasket to finish it off. The sealing of the door frame with the aluminum gasket took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but I think the forward storage space will be well utilized. I used Stainless Steel Allen Head fasteners with nylon insert lock nuts instead of rivets here because I could draw the individual fasteners tight slowly and evenly to get a good "squeeze" on the sealants and insure an even draw all of the way around. Also, due to the steel front plate and the proximity of the vertical ribs several different lengths of fasteners were required, making the choice of the #10-24 bolts and nuts even easier.

Final picture is of the same battery support fitted, clamped, and ready for welding.
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:22 PM   #12
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Battery Box In

Finished the Battery Box installation yesterday. The total expenditure for the project was $100 in parts and 4 hours of my time. Today, painted the "A" frame and drilled two 3/8" holes through the front "C" channel to route the cables from the batt box, up through the front steel angle and "C" channel, and inside the wall to the fuse box.

First shot is of the box in place - Aluminum angle is secured to the trailer frame supports with four 1/4" SS Phillips head bolts with SS Nylock hex nuts.

Second shows the box placement forward of the front of the trailer and rearward of the LPG Bottles.

Third is a shot from underneath. The Aluminum the box sits on is two thicknesses of .040 Aluminum secured with 3/16" pop rivets to the 1/8" Aluminum angle. The battery itself is held down by a frame attached to two long 1/4" rods. The rods are secured to the Al angle with wing nuts.
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Old 03-05-2005, 09:39 AM   #13
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I really like that battery box you put on. What is the brand name and where did you get it? Would you know the dimensions on that thing? Your work looks great!!!

Rod
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Old 03-05-2005, 10:47 AM   #14
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Thanks for the compliment on the work.

The battery box is a "NOCO Marine" - the box itself, without the lid, is 8 1/2" wide X 15" long X 8 3/4" high. I purchased it at an "Auto Zone" parts store.

Similar boxes are available at most Marine stores (West Marine is nationwide, I believe).
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