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Old 07-23-2008, 05:13 PM   #1
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1982 28' Airstream 280
Venice , California
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Electric-hell problems

Hey everybody,

I just bought my first airstream. A 280. It's in need of some restoration. Mostly interior. I'm planning on laying in new hardwood floors, painting most of the surfaces, re-doing the bathroom, etc. All in, very exciting. Until...

In the area where one might normally find the dinette (across from the fold down sofa), there was no dinette but instead a 3x6 wood panel screwed into the wall. Yes, warning sign #1. I removed the panel and found this (see photos). Apparently, someone was very eager to find a certain wire and proceeded to cut all through the wall until he/she did. At which point, he cut the wire and spliced in a switch that is installed on the dash. I can't figure out what the switch is for. So my questions for you esteemed folks are:

1. Any idea what the switch is for? You can see where the line goes in the wall.
2. How would you recommend patching this up? I was thinking about riveting in some metal behind the holes, then smoothing with spackle, patching up the million little holes and painting after.
3. Can I re-obtain a replacement panel for this?
4. What kind of bozo would tear into a metal panel like this?!?!?!

Any and all help appreciated. You're probably going to be seeing much more of me in the coming few weeks!


/dalefox
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:25 PM   #2
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hi dale and welcome to the forums...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalefox View Post
1. Any idea what the switch is for? You can see where the line goes in the wall.
2. How would you recommend patching this up? I was thinking about riveting in some metal behind the holes,
then smoothing with spackle, patching up the million little holes and painting after.
3. Can I re-obtain a replacement panel for this?
4. What kind of bozo would tear into a metal panel like this?!?!?!
1. different models had different switches in that location, ceiling lights, patio/porch lights and so on...

---this info should be in the owners manual, if ya don't have one copies are available.

---of course if REWIRING has happened, who knows what goes where.

2. after the wiring is fixed, trim the bent alum edges, COVER with alum and rivet this patch in place (see#4)

3. original replacement panel? no but those walls need a covering besides PAINT, like mouse fur or vinyl

4. cutting into the interior skin or peeling it back at a rivet line is common, even the factory service shop does this....

---but smoothing an airstream patch with "spackle" would qualify U for bozo status...

not only is there a WEALTH of info in the moho forums, to read and learn from...

the moho guys have a WHOLE SEPARATE FORUM they've started and use...

many of your needed resources, answers and owners hang there now.

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalefox
1. Any idea what the switch is for? You can see where the line goes in the wall.
2. How would you recommend patching this up? I was thinking about riveting in some metal behind the holes, then smoothing with spackle, patching up the million little holes and painting after.
3. Can I re-obtain a replacement panel for this?
4. What kind of bozo would tear into a metal panel like this?!?!?!
1-electric step?
2-I would remove the entire aluminum sheet, and replace it with a new aluminum sheet, cutting only the holes it needs for electric outlet box, etc. I saw oodles of holes bored into that sheet when I blew the picture up.
3- Yes, though it probably will be raw aluminum, unless you find a trailer or motorhome with comparable interior finish, and use a piece from it.
4-M-I-C/
K-E-Y/
M-O-U-S-E.

You did ask...
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:32 PM   #4
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as i recall the switch for the step is on the dash or at least the idiot button was...

and it's a vacuum step (or mine was)

there may have been an "off" switch there 4 the step, i fuzzy on this.

yep with ALL of those holes a full sheet makes good sense...

but the wall still needs covering with SOMETHING.

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:49 PM   #5
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I agree on replacing the panel entirely. While its off, redo the wiring correctly with the proper wire connectors instead of the electrical tape. You'll be glad you did all of this. Although it may seem like quite a project, it really isn't that bad. At least its on the inside and won't need to be watertight.

Brad
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:14 PM   #6
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Putnam , Connecticut
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That is one dangerous hack job. Of course you will not power up the AC until this is made save. You are very close to an excellent anti thief system.....
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:26 PM   #7
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Airstream suprise.

Hi Dale, welcome to the forums. Be prepared for many suprises in your motorhome. Some you look at and say, "What a neat idea! That guy was really sharp." Then there are the ones you shake your head at and say, "What was this guy thinking about? This makes no sense." I have been keeping a logbook of changes and improvements that I have made to the motorhome, so when they pry my cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel, the next owner will have something to go by. Good luck, have fun. Regards, Phil and Sam
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:51 PM   #8
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Dale,

Welcome to Airforums . You'll find a lot of good information here and a lot of helpful members.

If you have an electric step I'm betting Terry nailed it when he mentioned control switch for the step. If you don't have electric steps it'll be interesting to find what the wiring was for.

You gotta wonder what was going through the previous owners mind when he hacked into the wall like that.

Find a trailer that you can remove a piece of interior skin out of. Colaw's in Missouri has over 20 trailers in various stages of dismantlement that you should have what you need. Even if you have to replace it with two sections it would still look a lot better than it does now!

Diesel Phil, I like your idea of the log book. I had just kind of been keeping my changes and improvements in stacks of papers. Guess I need to get busy organizing..... (hope my wife doesn't read this )

Brad
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
Guess I need to get busy organizing..... (hope my wife doesn't read this )

Brad

a-HEM.

Susan
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
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a-HEM.

Susan
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:41 PM   #11
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Wow, that is a sad sight.
I feel for you!
It'd be nice to get your hands on the perpitrator and rub his nose in it.
I am curious how the rest of the rig looks.
Could you post more pics?

As for the wiring.
I suggest you get your hands on a continuity tester (volt/ohm meter/continuity) that will BEEP when it sees continuity (a short), make up some long test leads (6-10ft) with aligator clips on them, and get into a patient, meditative, wire-tracing state. You'll be getting to know your wiring intimately, which is not all that bad.

The truth is most anything can be fixed or modified to be at least as good as it was. Even if the fix is not original stock, you can make it cool. Maybe even cooler than stock.

It looks like you have the floor up and are hard at it. I'd love to see progress pic's.

Good luck and stay in touch!
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:14 AM   #12
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1982 28' Airstream 280
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You guys are smokin! Thanks for all the advise. I happen to own a classic car restoration shop, so I can always lean on my guys when I get into a real pickle. That said, I'm trying to do this by myself as much as possible.

So the electric step is a great theory. The step isn't working currently, but when I peeked under, I could have sworn it was still set up to be vacuum triggered. I'll take another look.

2air, I humbly take your advise to heart. But if I patch OVER the panel and rivet in place, won't there be a 'bump' even if I cover the walls with something? And you mentioned a 'whole separate moho forum' but failed to mention the url... Bein sneaky, methinks?

For everyone who said or alluded to the mickey mouse wiring, fear not. I have every intention of cleaning that up. The last thing I want to do is to bolt from the door with smoke belching from my new air...uh...flamestream...

oh, and drfw, the perp has gone to meet his maker. karma's a bi*ch...

I'll post some more pics in a few hours. she's a great project... :-O

Looks like it's time to go searching the forums for great threads on wall coverings!

/dalefox
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:52 AM   #13
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I'm not savvy to 280's, per se, but on our 345, the area there by the door has the cut-off switches for the coach batteries and chassis battery...these switches were connected to a control/monitor panel...the switch for the steps was in the same area, and an automatic switch(spring-load button) was located at the aft doorframe about a foot above the bottom jamb...these wires all seem to aim for the solenoids, so a bit of discretionary care is indicated...
mike
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalefox View Post
Bein sneaky, methinks?...
not entirely.

since joining the horsenbuggy group my moho gyrations have slowed.

yep, a patch is lumpy and will show a little under wall covering but not much...

and it depends on the wall covering, the fuzzy wall fabric and vinyl is pretty forgiving.

now about that spackle, why use that when BONDO is so forgiving.

there is a LOT in the moho archives here and still plenty of folks nursing these p30 silver tubes...

so fire away with the questions, u've already got their attention.

i think this is the site swebster and the some of the other long time moho'rs started...

THISOLDRV.COM

a mix of gmc and 'stream and other rigs from that era.

cheers
2air'
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