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Old 03-29-2013, 12:04 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1974 27' Overlander
San Francisco , California
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 26
Half Monty

In reading a few other threads, I figured I'd start my own on my cleanup/restoration of my 74 Overlander. I purchased this unit a few weeks ago and it was in pretty decent shape. I bought it from a friend who only owned it a year and was selling it because he didn't own a tow vehicle and wasn't getting the use out of it he'd hoped. My goal is to set it up for Burning Man and other events which I attend, so it should see use about one weekend a month plus a few weeks a year as I work out at the Burning Man festival.

It was in overall good shape when I picked it up. My friend had Avalon RV do an inspection on it when purchased a year ago, where they found and took care of a few plumbing leaks and minor subfloor rot. The PO put in laminate flooring which didn't look that great, but otherwise was all original.

After spending out first night in it at the 24 Hour of Lemons car race at Sears Point, I discovered one major problem. I don't fit on the double bed size gouchos! I'm 6'6", and not small. In addition, the front goucho was loose and seemed to move around a lot. So I decided to take the cushions off and discovered the frame had been "repaired" before, and had several molly bolts which had pulled out of the wall attempting to hold it together. Now, I hate this thing anyways, so I decided to pull it out and find a queen size replacement for it.

Pulling out the front goucho was a lot like pulling on that string on a sweater. It seems that I'm going to be compelled to do more than just replace the bed. Upon removing the bed, I'm now left with a laminate floor that has a goucho sized piece missing, and an akward piece of cabinet where the fold out table and stereo live. Ok, Those are gone too, since the table was wobbly and I'm looking for more bed space anyways.

I'm now down to the bare subfloor, where I find one nicely repaired piece of rot, which the PO had taken care of, and another 6" square of rot that they missed. I cut the rot out, making a square with a 45 degree angle, and cut a piece of wood as a plug with a matching angle. I used wood glue to set it and used wood filler to fill in minor gaps. This seems to have worked well.

Next, I replaced all the interior light bulbs with LED panels I purchased on Ebay based on a recommendation in another thread. WOW these are a huge improvement! 10x Warm White Dome Bulb 24 5050 SMD LED Super Bright Adapter 1156 1141 BA15S | eBay is where to get these. Only oddity, they didn't work in the two smaller lights over the middle goucho and above the center cabinet. Ok, I can live with that.

Now I'm onto the cabinets in the kitchen. It's my hope that someday I'll figure out how to replace the lower cabinet where the sink lives, but for now, I'm going to live with it and the pantry/fridge cabinet as is. I do want to paint the overhead bins which live above these two. I decided to remove them to paint them, since I'm thinking I'm going to go with a white for the main walls, but do something fun like deep red and black on these cabinets. Still trying to figure out the coloring there.

So I went ahead and removed the cabinets. The cabinet over the fridge came out pretty easily. It was fairly obvious where the screw were that held it in.

The cabinet over the sink was another story. It's got the electrical panel, overhead light for the sink, and the vent hood and control. I quickly figured out that I could remove one screw on the right hand side to uncover the back of the electrical panel. From there, the vent hood control was a simple 2 screws holding the control wire in place, and most of the electrical panel is just one large molex type connecter which was easy to disconnect. The light also had individual plug style connecters for each wire, which was easy to get out.

Ok, so now just undo the screws and take it off the wall, right? Wrong. See, it's connected to the plastic shade piece with a few hidden screws as well, which ment I had to remove the shade to get to. Ok. Got that out, then got the screws out. Fine. Eventually I was able to figure out it had to be rolled up and over the plastic shade holder, as there's a railing that runs behind the shade holder on the upper cabinet. Finally got that out. Great!

But now I'm left with this ugly plastic window shade holder. Its got a few cracks, and looks ugly. I want it gone. No problem, right? Wrong! It's held in by a few rivets on each side. The left side is fairly accessible, but the right side is blocked by the oven and a narrow gap between the shade holder and the wall that holds up the oven. So I end up removing the oven to get better access to the right side of the shade. I was fortunate to find these really cool foot long 1/8th inch drill bits at Home Depot which allowed me to get at the rivets. Out comes the shade.

Most recently Ive started scrubbing down the walls and removing excess stick on hooks and other crud in prep for painting the walls. I'd bought some Kelly Moore primer and paint which I plan to do the walls with, and am still trying to figure colors for the overhead bins.

I'm focusing on the front room (kitchen/main bed) first, likely leaving the middle bed and bathroom alone for a while.

I'll attach some pics of the process...
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:12 PM   #2
2 Rivet Member
1974 27' Overlander
San Francisco , California
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 26
more pics
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:16 PM   #3
2 Rivet Member
altnbndr's Avatar
1967 17' Caravel
1968 22' Safari
Sacramento , California
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 94
Images: 11
The Domino Effect

I'm not laughing at you I'm laughing with you. My Airstream restoration project began as a simple cabinet repair that I estimated would only take about an hour or so. Eight hours later I found that a simple repair on a Airstream seems to take much longer than one would think. After this I thought that I would begin on a exterior clean-up polish job which I began. After I started on this my wife ask "what are you doing?" and before I would be allowed to continue on the cosmetic issues on the outside she would get what she wanted (needed) on the inside. Since I could not find any signs of leaks that needed addressed I reluctantly agreed. So it changed from starting on the outside to the inside. I apparently was using the wrong side of my brain not the "RIGHT SIDE" (my dear wife) to prioritize the order that I worked in. So after a new floor, fresh water tank, toilet, range, furnace, refrigerator, Intelli-power 40 amp 12 VDC power supply, bed and more cabinet repairs my budget has been blown out of the water.

I still need to replace the water heater,curtains, and upholstery. I also would like to remove the groovy "burnt orange shag" wall to wall carpeting. By wall to wall I mean up one wall over the ceiling and down the other wall which was all the rage in the late sixties early seventies.

I was able to recently convince my wife (thanks to the post found here on Airstream Forums) that we needed to replace the axle and upgrade to 16" Michellin XPS rib tires that I'm working on this weekend (another budget buster)

Even though we have yet to make it to Burning Man I'd bet that a partially polished late sixties trailer with burnt orange carpeting on the walls and ceiling would fit right in.

It's amazing how a simple project on a Airstream leads to another then another then another then..... . Thanks to this forum I am able to not feel alone in my Airstream preoccupation. I have been able to use working on my Airstream as therapy and a labor of love. Being able to take the Airstream out and spending time with my family has became the payback for my time spent. I hope you and others will be able reap the rewards of seeing new places and meeting friendly people that the Airstream has provided to my family.
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:48 PM   #4
2 Rivet Member
1974 27' Overlander
San Francisco , California
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 26
Update: The Bed is in! We custom built a frame that allows for three large storage areas underneath and makes a huge bed out of the front section, measuring 90.5"x62" and a smaller section next to the fridge at 40x28".

The challenge was finding a mattress. I looked at custom foam places, which quoted me about $700 for 4 inches of foam. Seemed like way more money than we wanted to spend. We looked at Ikea, wallmart, etc for foam mattresses as well, and nothing seemed to fit the bill. Ikea had some great foam mattresses, but they're on the order of $500 for a king, and wouldn't fit right either.

Finally I got the idea to search Craigslist. I found two used mattresses, both the same model, one king and one queen. The pair were only 6 months old and cost me $225 combined. With the king, we took the cloth covers off (all three of them) till we reached bare foam. From here, we used an electric carving knife that I picked up at Goodwill for $5.00 which cut the foam like a hot knife through butter. We were able to make the King into two pieces, a 62x80 piece and had a 14x80 piece left over, which we cut down to 11 inches which fit the 90 inch stretch perfectly. We then shaped the square mattress into the perfect fit using the not yet screwed down frame top as a templet. Turned out to be a perfect fit. We plan on cutting the queen down to fit the 40x28 piece with a bunch of foam left over to make back cushions, etc.

We also extended the wires for the stereo so it ends up next to the door, where we'll be adding some spring connectors for external speakers should we want to run them out the door.

Next step: New fabric to wrap the mattress foam.
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