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Old 12-17-2014, 06:39 AM   #1
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I finally did it! On the path! FullTiming

So I recently purchased a 1979 31' sovereign! Center bath
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Now it's time to renovate!
Only problem is I have no idea where to start. I opted for demolition so today I'm ripping up carpets and checking the extent of damages.

When it comes to electrical, plumbing & such I have no idea what I'm doing....what I do know is that I want to re- do everything!

Any suggestions or tips will be greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:56 AM   #2
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Not knowing what your doing isn't going to help. Find a friend that does know what they are doing to help you discuss and carry out your projects. The owners manual should come in handy. Stick to these forums for advice- these people here are pros at restoration and when you need a quick answer I think you can go advanced on your posts...and scroll down to see email notifications and tick the one in drop down that says 'instant email notification'. Keep your restoration interesting and have fun.
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Old 12-17-2014, 10:43 AM   #3
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Thx man! I'm sure there will be many questions to come!
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Old 12-18-2014, 12:13 AM   #4
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Old 12-18-2014, 11:32 AM   #5
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Dont make the mistake I see so many others make,, and tare up the trailer from end to end and have a unfixable mess.... Take it as a first things first and take it in smaller bites.

My advice,, if it's not broke, don't fix it. Sodbust
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Old 12-18-2014, 12:07 PM   #6
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Airquarius and Sodbust have both given you super important advice - take it to heart.

Basic carpentry mantra:
"Measure Twice - Cut Once.... Measure Once - Cut Twice!"
Is advice that barely scrapes the surface of things that can go wrong when your get impulsive in an Airstream renovation.

Do update your profile to include your location. Do ask any other Airstreamers in your area to send you a PM or otherwise contact you. Do try to find a rally in your area (assuming you are in the deep south and there are rallies at this time of year). Do read a lot of "full monte" threads so you can really get a good idea of just what the heck you've let yourself in for.

If you want to learn to golf, you may think you can do it without paying the club pro. That game itself teaches 30% of new players to run from the challenge, and teaches the remaining 70% that lessons from a pro are a great investment. You can avoid serious injury, financial losses (from throwing $1200 worth of clubs into a lake) and personal humiliation, as well as maintain your sanity and sense of personal worth by getting even a small amount of professional coaching.

Fixing an Airstream is a lot harder than golfing. Pay a pro for a consultation and assessment. A lot of good advice can be shared over the computer with pictures alone. Golf doesn't allow for pinch hitters - but you CAN get someone else to redo your propane lines or wiring if you find that it's beyond your skill set. Or replace your black tank because you know you're gonna run away gagging (Hey the pros know how to empty and clean the tank first, even if the black gate is broken in the "shut" position.)

One rare advantage of getting older - I'm more willing to tell my Ego to shut up and sit down. I am now all Zen with the fact that it's WAY CHEAPER (and faster and prettier) to pay to have someone with experience do some things FOR me rather than doing things I really don't enjoy just to prove I can "win". If you don't believe the "cheaper" part it's because your hospitalization fully covers a visit to the emergency room.

Paula
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Old 12-18-2014, 12:26 PM   #7
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Been there done that

I have a 1976 31' Sovereign center bath almost identical to yours that I rescued in 2000. I did the same thing as you want to do, a complete refurbish job. The temptation is to start with the "Fun" stuff, making it look pretty. But here is my advise, start with the running gear - axles, wheels, tires, breaks, wiring for all exterior lights. You will need to update the 7-pin connector cable (if that has not already been done. Check the a-frame and hitch coupling and rust on the frame issues if visible. Get it road ready before you start any other projects. Then move to the propane system and all copper lines and connectors. Then water lines. I replaced all of mine with PEX from the inlet at the back of the trailer. Good news is that the water lines in the Trailer are run inside on the floor under beds and through closets and cabinets so after removing certain things they are easy to access. EXCEPT, the water supply line runs along the drivers side of the trailer up to the cabinets in the kitchen on that side. Then it runs under the floor over to the kitchen sink and then back to the hot water heater and bathroom. Why they didn't run the supply along the back of the trailer then along the passenger side up to the kitchen I am not sure. This would prevent running any water lines under the floor and if I had it to do over again that is what I would do. PEX is fairly easy to work with so routing it is not a problem.

That should take you a while but if you take this route then you will be on path to getting the trailer refurbished and then you can start on the fun stuff.
Start one project and finish it and then move on the next.

Good luck.
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Old 12-18-2014, 12:47 PM   #8
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Where to start

When I purchased my 1982 31' Excella October 2013( that had been sitting for 4 years)the first thing i did was as follows.

1. pulled carpet and flooring to see what needed to be repaired or replaced in floor
2. pulled wheels and tires. checked to see condition and repairs needed.
3. checked exterior and interior lighting.
4. Then I called reputable independent repair shop, told them what i had and what I was doing, would pay their hourly rate to check all systems and what he would replace, or fix and what was likely to go bad.
5. Had them fix appliances,i.e. water heater, Refer, and AC.
6. I did Minor floor repairs, put down new laminate floor, new toilet, bought new backing plates with brakes, pucks, bearings and seals and tires naturally. I scrubbed inside for weeks, had original drapes cleaned and replaced all interior and exterior lights with LEDs. Reattached or patched bottom pan.
7. Used a recommened aluminum cleaner not stripper, and cleaned skin. I then used recommened stripper on worst areas a little at a time,and would polish each area after stripping. Have know completed trailer with 2nd step of airplane polish( except roof) and will finish 3rd this winter.
8.Ordered wool hand tided rugs from overstock .com.

Have been using trailer since March of 2014 and put on 7,000 miles, now doing a few more cosmetic things on interior, and getting ready for 6,000 mile trip east this spring.

I agree with the Program fix any thing that involves safety or comfort but use the trailer and enjoy.

My only failure so far has been Refer, replaced with dorm size electric one from Lowes.

Have fun you can see a lot and meet a lot of great people.
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Old 12-18-2014, 02:06 PM   #9
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I would not go any further than pulling out the carpet without a solid plan. If you don't have a plan, how do you know what needs to be replaced? Why do you think the plumbing, electrical need to be replaced, if you don't have a plan yet for what you want there? Only re-do the stuff you NEED to re-do!

Sodbust is dead on - a LOT of people tear their trailers up and then drop the whole project. A good plan will prevent that from happening. Particularly if you intend to full time in it, you will want to plan it to be the most comfortable, useful space possible. Besides, planning is the FUN part - doing the work is only half as fun! Good luck!
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Old 12-19-2014, 04:11 PM   #10
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Just because Airstream put it in-do not assume you need it. And use the KISS principle . I bought a nearly flawless 1958 Caravanner 22' and bought too many things before I hit the road. Turns out I did not need: tanks, 12v 100% duty air compressor, aluminum air tank. More systems = more money, more maintenance and you are out of luck when they don't work. Porta pot works fine. Bought a 4400 watt dual fuel generator, mounted it on the front "A" frame. Do not need it - instead: candles, 6v D cell LED lanterns, old fashioned oil lamps and 2 Trojan T-105s 6v batteries w/ a pure sine wave inverter. Stove and oven replaced w/3 burner Coleman, fold open oven, and small green bottles of propane. No need for sink - use paper products and disposable plastic and wipe clean cast iron. Electric shaver. Boil water in turkey fryer and half cold into 1/2 55 gal drum ( found a nice stainless one ). Waste water in "bouser" with wheels. Fresh water from blue jugs-gravity feed. Got rid of frig, all powdered or cans or fresh and shop as necessary. Have a window A/C still in the box. Replaced beds with cots and air mattresses, use folding chairs and card tables. Spent $8K on stuff I did not need and $1,800.00 on what I did (Trojans $306 alone). I tow with a 365 HP Cadillac Escalade EXT 'cause it's like a pick-'em-up truck. Keep firewood, Cuisinard propane grill, charcoal and grill, coolers, awning, fresh water bottles, "bouser", case of propane disposables, etc. in covered cargo area. KISS
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Old 12-20-2014, 07:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by cwf View Post
Where are you? Profile update?

I am in Naples, FL
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Old 12-20-2014, 07:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Airquarius and Sodbust have both given you super important advice - take it to heart.

Basic carpentry mantra:
"Measure Twice - Cut Once.... Measure Once - Cut Twice!"
Is advice that barely scrapes the surface of things that can go wrong when your get impulsive in an Airstream renovation.

Do update your profile to include your location. Do ask any other Airstreamers in your area to send you a PM or otherwise contact you. Do try to find a rally in your area (assuming you are in the deep south and there are rallies at this time of year). Do read a lot of "full monte" threads so you can really get a good idea of just what the heck you've let yourself in for.

If you want to learn to golf, you may think you can do it without paying the club pro. That game itself teaches 30% of new players to run from the challenge, and teaches the remaining 70% that lessons from a pro are a great investment. You can avoid serious injury, financial losses (from throwing $1200 worth of clubs into a lake) and personal humiliation, as well as maintain your sanity and sense of personal worth by getting even a small amount of professional coaching.

Fixing an Airstream is a lot harder than golfing. Pay a pro for a consultation and assessment. A lot of good advice can be shared over the computer with pictures alone. Golf doesn't allow for pinch hitters - but you CAN get someone else to redo your propane lines or wiring if you find that it's beyond your skill set. Or replace your black tank because you know you're gonna run away gagging (Hey the pros know how to empty and clean the tank first, even if the black gate is broken in the "shut" position.)

One rare advantage of getting older - I'm more willing to tell my Ego to shut up and sit down. I am now all Zen with the fact that it's WAY CHEAPER (and faster and prettier) to pay to have someone with experience do some things FOR me rather than doing things I really don't enjoy just to prove I can "win". If you don't believe the "cheaper" part it's because your hospitalization fully covers a visit to the emergency room.

Paula

Thx!
Although I fear it's all been tore up....pics to come...
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Old 12-20-2014, 08:01 AM   #13
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Ok so I got a little trigger happy and tore it all up.... Maybe a good thing maybe not? .... In the process I found that I pretty much wanted to re-do everything since I'm going to he full timing in it....

Originally I started looking at floors and the bath I want and how to fit my big screen tv, etc etc.....then it hit me....if the foundation sucks why am I gonna put all these Bells and whistles on it?!? Ok so change of gears, let's check the integrity, the frame the water damage the.....well everything.... And so it began... Check out the pics...Click image for larger version

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And then what happened.....queue the floor rot and rust.....

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So most of the back frame needs to be redone and attached to the rest of the frame....

So pretty much now I'm considering the idea that I need to take the shell off....please by all means chime in....

It's a minor setback but....if done right the first time, chances are it won't have to be done again....

I just hope I can get my trailer done by my deadline.....June 2015....

One day at a time?

Thanks for reading and all your wisdom!
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Old 12-20-2014, 08:36 AM   #14
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Wow, what a job and congratulations. I'm in Fort Myers. Adonh mentioned PEX. I have been reading about that for eventually replacing my gas line but I found some restrictions. (I am no specialist but mention it) First the PEX rated LP I have looked at requires to sunlight exposure and is for underground only. I like the idea of eliminating fittings but... just read the specs.
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