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Old 10-16-2018, 10:41 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Lincoln University , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 10
And the restoration begins - looking for ideas and guidance!

We just bought a '79 mid-bath Sovereign.

I figured we'd get a couple of trips in this fall with the kids. 1 or 2 trips just to figure this RV'ing thing out before we tried to clean it up too much. Then, my wife struck! She said she was going to do some cleaning. We are now down to bare floors and a hollow aluminum can. Most of the walls are off, pink insulation is mostly off. But, we're in decent shape I think.

The frame I can see around the tanks, etc... looks good to excellent. Light surface rust or clean paint.
We have about 6 - 8" of rotten ply around the back. That last sheet is going to come out and get replaced, along with the angle iron, then apply one of the "fixes".
Belly tank box got damaged some time back - fresh tank doesn't hold water and the box is dented.
A few minor dings in the exterior and need for some paint and polishing. Otherwise, we are in good shape.

Plan right now is:
  1. Pull the belly pan and remove everything that makes sense underneath.
  2. Drop the tanks.
  3. Conversion coat what frame I can get to.
  4. Replace the rear sheet of plywood. Either single piece if I can get it in or split it and make a lap joint in the middle.
  5. Seal all of the ply around the edges and topcoat the ply with an appropriate exterior paint / sealer.
  6. Rebuild the rear frame to shell interface (we don't have any frame sag right now).
  7. Replace all underside wiring. May add a conduit from the front to the mid-section. Possibly another from the mid-section to the rear bed area.
  8. Re-insulate - looking for thoughts on this...
  9. Replace tanks, belly boxes and belly pan.

But, I'm looking for insight from the collective here. What should we be watching out for? Thoughts on belly insulation, rear end repair, etc...
How hard is it to dolly out the light exterior dents, or do I hunt down one of my aircraft buddies?

Happy to be here and hopefully Strut Airstream will be on the road before TOOO long. Kids love "Planes".
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:48 AM   #2
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
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Welcome. Looks to be in pretty good shape. I suggest you save everything until you're done, even if you plan to replace it. You never know what you're going to end up needing.

I like rockwool for insulation. It's easy to work with and you don't end up with voids like you do with fiberglass. Whatever you choose, you can only pack so much r-value in an inch and a half. The best thing you can do for your insulation is to add a thermal break between your ribs and the interior skins, so they're not conducting heat straight past your insulation.
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:11 AM   #3
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1967 26' Overlander
Alpine , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 87
Welcome and will be watching . Do you have a warm place to work ? Good luck , lots of info on this site . Blue
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:53 AM   #4
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Lots of info on insulation here: there's even a thread where someone compared multiple insulation types. Just google it.
We did a lot of reading here and learned a lot from others as we did our rebuild. Our thread is in the 70's section under "Little Girl Refurb". We ended up with a little different layout than many, and our 31ft trailer sleeps 2, sounds like
not what you want. There's a vintage trailer section to the forums that shows many trailer layouts over the years. That's where I found ours, and then tweaked it.
There are many threads on restorations and rebuilds, they make for good reading during snowstorms, and can give you lots of ideas. There's a thread here that lists them somewhere...
Minor dings and dents just add to the patina of the trailer, but if you want to work out dents, now's the time with inner skins off. We only had one that bugged us, by the door where the doorknob someone had put on hit the shell and dented it. We put a Minnesota shaped aluminum cover over it. Taking off any clear coat that's left will improve the look of your trailer immensely and is worth the work.
Good luck, and I look forward to reading your thread!

Kay
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:37 AM   #5
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 457
Quote:
Originally Posted by andymeyer View Post

Plan right now is:
  1. Pull the belly pan and remove everything that makes sense underneath.
  2. Drop the tanks.
  3. Conversion coat what frame I can get to.
  4. Replace the rear sheet of plywood. Either single piece if I can get it in or split it and make a lap joint in the middle.
  5. Seal all of the ply around the edges and topcoat the ply with an appropriate exterior paint / sealer.
  6. Rebuild the rear frame to shell interface (we don't have any frame sag right now).
  7. Replace all underside wiring. May add a conduit from the front to the mid-section. Possibly another from the mid-section to the rear bed area.
  8. Re-insulate - looking for thoughts on this...
  9. Replace tanks, belly boxes and belly pan.

But, I'm looking for insight from the collective here. What should we be watching out for? Thoughts on belly insulation, rear end repair, etc...
How hard is it to dolly out the light exterior dents, or do I hunt down one of my aircraft buddies?
I found that replacing the floor ply in smaller pieces was easier. You can lever up a section, slide the funky piece out and a new piece in. I sistered on a patch underneath, and it was solid. Using a penetrating sealer, especially on the edges, is a good idea. I used Thompson's, it's cheap and easy, so it always gets done. Something to remember is that if you try to go for a super-waterproof on your subfloor, you can trap water inside if it does leak. This could cause more problems than just leaving the wood bare!

What insulation to use can be a contentious subject on this Forum. I also like rockwool, combined with butyl rubber tape to make for a thermal break. Others will have different opinions! Save your existing skins, even if you want to replace them, as they make for great templates.

Conduit would be a cool idea! I've run strings alongside wire runs for future mods, with varying success.

The consensus here is that POR-15 makes for the best frame paint.

Do a search on dent removal, there are some interesting ways to do this. You are limited, in that aluminum stretches more than steel does. If you have aircraft buddies available, go to them first! In a worst case situation, you can always buy replacement panels ($$$).

Good luck, keep us all posted!
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:06 PM   #6
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1986 25' Sovereign
2008 F350, 6.4L diesel , Oak Harbor, WA
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I would replace all of the fresh water plumbing system (pump, valves, and piping). I like PEX, using manifolds you can do home runs with the 1/2" size. I would not use "shark-bite" type fittings. I would also install a small bladder tank the size you find on top of a residential water heater.


If you are going to work on the rear frame consider strengthen the main longitudinal frame members from the bumper to the second cross member. If you sub this out, your welder person will likely have a good suggestion as to the material to use.
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:45 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Lincoln University , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 10
Thanks for the info.

We kept most of the parts for patterns. Some cabinets and stuff wasn't in the greatest of shape so we disposed of some. Kept all of the skins for patterns or for re-use.

How does the insulation attach in the belly to the floorboards? Obviously Rockwool or Fiberglass will sag down onto the bellypan (bad for corrosion / drying. Are we better bonding 2" foam sheet to the floorboards from underneath? Squirt foam to seal the gaps? Or, do we just not worry about the belly insulation which I hear some do?

What dimension butyl rubber tape is recommended for the thermal break? Tape the ribs and rivet through it I assume.

Joyflea, Well, we're going to do our best with a warm place to work. Might just be me freezing my butt for a bit. Going to try to get the belly done before it gets too cold. Our schedule hasn't been conducive lately though. We figure if we get it sealed up, we can get a new heater installed and use that while we work.

Once we pull the rear sheet of ply and the belly pan, I plan to corroseal as much of the frame as I can get to. So far, the frame we can see by the water tanks still has paint so that it reassuring, and we don't have any separation in the rear so...

We've got 3 leaks in the roof that we've found so far. What's the best sealant to use? Clean up the area the best we can, put some vacuum on the inside to draw the sealant in and apply it to the outside? We're removing the old TV aerial as well. What's the ideal technique for filling those holes? Flush riveted path plate or just bond in a flush patch?

As we make more progress, we'll post more pictures. Might turn this into a resto process post that can be followed along...
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Old 10-21-2018, 10:15 AM   #8
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
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We did not re-insulate under the floor. Instead we used floating cork floor that is 1/2 inch thick. The floor is quite warm in cold weather. We don't winter camp so it works for us.
There are several ways to seal leaks: Sikaflex or Captain Tolly's Crack sealer are 2 good ones. They are thin and will wick into the seam. You may need several applications to seal the seam. Be aware also that water travels so your leak may be several feet away from where it's coming into the trailer.
We (well, this one was all Chris) covered our roof hole, that was very corroded from someone using silicone for the antenna, with a piece of aluminum sealed with vulkem and riveted on. Make sure if you're using silicone on aluminum, that it's formulated for aluminum. Old ones weren't.

Kay
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Old 10-22-2018, 09:36 AM   #9
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 457
Once you get all of roof holes patched with riveted aluminum (https://goo.gl/DxdKAX), and the seams sealed with TremPro 635 (https://goo.gl/9msbhL), you might consider painting the top white with a trailer roof sealer. I used this stuff called Bus Kote, but wound up paying about $150 to do my roof. Seems more expensive than necessary. Heat transfer through the roof is monstrous; here in S. Fla, we need all the help we can get!
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:26 PM   #10
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1978 31' Sovereign
Lincoln University , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 10
Minno, Thanks for the pointers on the sealants to use - we've got a few leaks to chase down... Fortunately, we're mostly gutted now so they are easy to find. Might have to do like you on the antenna holes as well. I want that thing gone.

Suzy, we're a bit further north, but I'm going to look into options for ensuring that the roof is sealed. Putting 2 to 4 flexible solar panels may help with the sealing, but may have us give up some thermal performance - or gain some. Not sure whether we'll need more cooling or heating up north here in PA / MD area.

Dropped the tanks this weekend. Came out pretty easy, though we broke the valve off the black water tank. Plastic valve was aged pretty bad anyways so I'll probably replace both of those. Metal boxes were both dented and some corrosion. Dent is out of the dirty water box. Leak in the fresh water tank was just a drain fitting broken on the bottom. The boxes are getting painted...

Now to pull the belly skin and get the belly cleaned out

Still not sure on the flooring insulation. Rock wool or glue in pink foam to as much of the bottom as I can and fill gaps with rock wool. Rest of the insulation will likely be rock wool. Does the bubble wrap reflective stuff make much of a difference over just rock wool? My knowledge of heat transfer says no; is it doing anything more than insulating? (Noise, condensation, bugs...?)

What else needs to go back in before putting the tanks, tank boxes and belly pan back in? Wiring? Water lines? I think all of that is above floor grade, right? (one water line goes from street to curb. Brake wires don't run in the belly, do they? What am I forgetting?

Thanks!

Andy and Laura
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:12 AM   #11
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
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Your tub/shower drain may hang down into your belly pan depending on how much head room you want in the shower. We dropped ours down below the floor a few inches for more headroom for hubby (I don't need it at 4'10"). Just a thought.
Suit up when you drop the belly - ours was pretty nasty! Chris wore a one piece paint style suit with goggles.

Kay
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:51 PM   #12
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1978 31' Sovereign
Lincoln University , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2018
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Okay, Question here...

Pulled the trim strip from the side and was surprised to find the Banana panels and the side to belly skirts outside of the main body skin, as seen in the photo below. I would have figured the side skirts and banana panels would have been under the skins to preclude water from running into the belly. Do I fix this by
  1. Putting it back together the same way, but with sealant in that gap to keep the water out, or
  2. Trim the side skirts and banana panels to fit under the side skins and re-rivet it all together.
I'm leaning towards 2, but that'll be a ton of work to get those trimmed up just right.

Was hoping not to pull that strip or the bananas, but I've got a badly dented and repaired one and dented again... Pulled it hoping to give to a buddy with an english wheel - not sure if it can be saved. That's when the wife said "Pull 'em all since we're in this far!"

Thoughts?

Andy
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:33 PM   #13
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Arvada , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andymeyer View Post
Okay, Question here...

Pulled the trim strip from the side and was surprised to find the Banana panels and the side to belly skirts outside of the main body skin, as seen in the photo below. I would have figured the side skirts and banana panels would have been under the skins to preclude water from running into the belly. Do I fix this by
  1. Putting it back together the same way, but with sealant in that gap to keep the water out, or
  2. Trim the side skirts and banana panels to fit under the side skins and re-rivet it all together.
I'm leaning towards 2, but that'll be a ton of work to get those trimmed up just right.

Was hoping not to pull that strip or the bananas, but I've got a badly dented and repaired one and dented again... Pulled it hoping to give to a buddy with an english wheel - not sure if it can be saved. That's when the wife said "Pull 'em all since we're in this far!"

Thoughts?

Andy
I reinstalled the banana wraps and side panels under the side skins. It wasn't a problem, pics in my thread below.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:34 PM   #14
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andymeyer View Post
Okay, Question here...

Pulled the trim strip from the side and was surprised to find the Banana panels and the side to belly skirts outside of the main body skin, as seen in the photo below. I would have figured the side skirts and banana panels would have been under the skins to preclude water from running into the belly. Do I fix this by
  1. Putting it back together the same way, but with sealant in that gap to keep the water out, or
  2. Trim the side skirts and banana panels to fit under the side skins and re-rivet it all together.
I'm leaning towards 2, but that'll be a ton of work to get those trimmed up just right.

Was hoping not to pull that strip or the bananas, but I've got a badly dented and repaired one and dented again... Pulled it hoping to give to a buddy with an english wheel - not sure if it can be saved. That's when the wife said "Pull 'em all since we're in this far!"

Thoughts?

Andy
IMO, not worth it to change it. Yes, it's worthwhile to keep water out of the belly pan as much as practical, but when I had the opportunity, it just seemed to be way too much work. I just put a bunch of sikaflex under the trim strip and sealed the top of the trim strip once it was in place. As long as I maintain that seal along with all the other seals, water shouldn't make it behind the trim.
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