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Old 05-26-2008, 09:39 PM   #1
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'77 31footer, needs axles and floor repair. Price check?

Hi you all, first timer here. I've been lurking while looking for a trailer, and I found one today that I'd like some advice on. Exterior has typical peeling clear coat and one noticible scratch where it rubbed a pole for a couple of feet, but not really dented at all. Interior has soft spots in both back corners, so its leaking some where. In general the interior is there in average condition. All the upper windows had water vapor in between the panes. All systems seem functional except the fridge, which the owner says is marginal. A.C. is also unproven. Tires are 4-5 years old with like new tread, but both axles are wiped. This trailer has been sitting for a while. The owner will deliver it 2 hours away to my door which is big as I do not have a tow vehical yet. So, my question is..What do I bid considering the fridge, rear floor, axles and windows all need replacing/repair? Adding up the cost of parts and labor doesn't leave much left over, but I could do the repairs myself, except for the axles which need to be done before delivery or any major road time. Thank you in advance for your thoughts. I have already gained much from gleaning the collective knowlegde here.
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:24 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

Those are good questions. How much work are you planning on doing yourself?

Replacing the floor even in small areas is a big job. Also a soft floor may be pointing to other trouble such as rust damage to the frame, cross-members and/or outriggers. Which is also a big job.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not trying to discourage you but I would definitely recommend a more thorough inspection before you decide whether this particular trailer is right for you.

Maybe you could find someone experienced with airstream inspections in your local area who would be willing to take a look for you. Good luck.
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply and welcome Todd! To answer your question, (which may answer mine ) I would prefer to do minimal work and pay more for a trailer in good to excellent condition, so while I am capable, I do not have experience with this type of frame construction or time to do major repairs before living full time. I am looking for a quality repair shop in Northern Illinois to have inspect and possible repair the trailer, or atleast give me some quotes. I am getting married, quitting my job, and moving next month and need a trailer for fulltimeing in before september. So, the trailer must atleast be livable in 4 months, but need not be pristine (don't have the budget for that anyway).
You are right on about needing a more critical eye on the rear subfloor damage. I am pretty sure it is leaking from above the rear cap area on the out side. From under the trailer there is no signs of decay and the pan under there apears in excellent shape. What more could I know to help determine the cause/extent of the damage. Thanks again for the (promt even!) reply...Zac
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Old 05-27-2008, 06:32 AM   #4
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If this is a rear bath model, you may have more of a problem than just a leak. These 70's Sovereign, rear bath trailers can have frame sag from an inadequate frame structure. There are a couple of Forum members in Rockford, IL, who might take a look at it for you. One is Shalay (I think) but I can't remember the other members. Good luck in your search. I would like to add that there are many good 31ft Sovereigns out there as they are not as pricey or as easy to sell as the shorter units. We just purchased a great mid-bath 76 Sovereign last October that is in fantastic shape for its age. With just a little TLC and a new frig, we're camping in it already. The A/C is even still keeping it cold in the Oklahoma heat. Also, ALL the vista-view windows look just horrible until you get the nerve and time to repair them. Don't let that stop you from getting one of these old Sovereigns. Here are pictures of our Sovereign on the day we picked it up. Sure, I know it's pink inside, but this is what a well cared for trailer can look like.
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Old 05-27-2008, 07:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
I would prefer to do minimal work and pay more for a trailer in good to excellent condition, so while I am capable, I do not have experience with this type of frame construction or time to do major repairs before living full time. I am looking for a quality repair shop in Northern Illinois to have inspect and possible repair the trailer, or atleast give me some quotes
Given your parameters, I'd keep looking.

A trailer which has sat for a few years is probably going to be a can of worms. (Check my photos and you'll see where I'm coming from.) Unless it has all new appliances, I wouldn't give more than $3K (which would certainly be unacceptable to the seller.) But this still wouldn't solve your problem as you'll surely have issues to deal with.

The axles would be the least of my worries given the relative ease of replacement compared to floor issues. There is no way to know the extent of frame damage without dropping the belly pan (which involves drilling out the rivets , etc.). Remember, you're looking at a 30 year old trailer. Moisture has had a lot of time to do its dirty work. Appliance replacement will run you another $2K, assuming you do it yourself. Window/door gaskets will cost you less than $200 but you'll have quite a few hours in removing old before you replace. (been there, done that)

If I were in your shoes, I'd prepare to spend $10-$15K and look for a unit which has already been restored, or has been rigidly maintained like the one pictured above. (which are few and far between, from my experience)

In hindsight, paying more up front is probably the least painful way of entering the used Airstream club. Floor replacement (and associated frame repair) will eat you alive in terms of man/hours. A reputable repair shop with experience in this area will not do it cheaply.

Make sure you've made adequate planning with your tow vehicle as well. A 31' will tow best with a 3/4 ton.
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offgrid
...the trailer must atleast be livable in 4 months, but need not be pristine (don't have the budget for that anyway).
You are right on about needing a more critical eye on the rear subfloor damage. ...Zac
Zac, you can't get there in 4 months if you have a floor problem. That aside, vintage Airstream price is inversely related to length. I've found several 28-31' Airstreams for $3K, and bugs aside, they were campable immediately. I have to agree with PizzaChop--pay a little more and find another Airstream.

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Old 05-27-2008, 03:02 PM   #7
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These 70's Sovereign, rear bath trailers can have frame sag from an inadequate frame structure.
see Andy's ideas on this one ...

and rear bath is only a correlation because nearly all the rigs of the era were rear bath. Frame separation also occurs in center bath rigs.

from what I can tell, the real problem is that the connection between the floor and the shell separates due to wood rot or bolt corrosion. It is enhanced, aggravated, or perhaps even caused by excessive vibration as from out of balance running gear. That allows the floor to sag.

yeah, the frame could be stronger and help prevent the problem but the source isn't a deficient frame as I understand it.
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by juel
If this is a rear bath model, you may have more of a problem than just a leak. These 70's Sovereign, rear bath trailers can have frame sag from an inadequate frame structure. There are a couple of Forum members in Rockford, IL, who might take a look at it for you. One is Shalay (I think) but I can't remember the other members. Good luck in your search. I would like to add that there are many good 31ft Sovereigns out there as they are not as pricey or as easy to sell as the shorter units. We just purchased a great mid-bath 76 Sovereign last October that is in fantastic shape for its age. With just a little TLC and a new frig, we're camping in it already. The A/C is even still keeping it cold in the Oklahoma heat. Also, ALL the vista-view windows look just horrible until you get the nerve and time to repair them. Don't let that stop you from getting one of these old Sovereigns. Here are pictures of our Sovereign on the day we picked it up. Sure, I know it's pink inside, but this is what a well cared for trailer can look like.
That's a nice looking Sovereign. It's great to see a few of these vintage models still in good shape!
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Old 05-27-2008, 06:06 PM   #9
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Thanks. If you're interested here is the trailer as it progressed on its way to the lake for the Summer. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f184...ign-41089.html
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:21 PM   #10
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Thanks for the answers Pizza Chop, Judy and Bob, and Zep. The search continues. Thats one sweet looking trailer Pizza Chop... Mint!
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