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Old 03-13-2012, 10:21 AM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
Trois-Rivičres , Quebec
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Need advice before buying a Sovereign with water damage

Hi everyone,

I've been reading on this site for some times now. I think this is the best place to get a sound advice on a delicate question like the one that follows. So here we go.

I've been looking for an Airstream for some times now. I thought I found the right one a couple of weeks ago, an all original 1977 31' Sovereign. The lady who is selling bought it from the original owner with everything working two years ago. She parked it in her backyard and didn't touch anything since then.

Here comes the not so good part of the story... Last summer kids played in the Airstream and opened the windows. When rain started to fall, the owner went in and closed the windows... but forgot to close the two roof vents. This was discovered only in January!

You can imagine the odour in the Airstream when we visited. There is mold on the walls and the wallpaper is coming off in some corners. I lifted the carpet in some corners and found the floor wet (a small line) close to the walls. Mold is also present on the curtains.

I know that mold is not a small thing to deal with and I'm ready to spend the time necessary to clean the unit. I still want to know what's your feeling on the extent of the damage. How bad do you think this thing can be?

Also, many windows are unsealed and will need to be taken care of. I read on the forum about the breaking glass solution for the Sky lights so I understand that this is not a small job. But is this a common problem on this model?

Overall, do you think I should run away from this or this may be not as bad as it seems?

Thanks in advance!

Etienne

p.s. We agreed for $ 4k for the Airstream. She paid $ 7.5k two years ago. I've attached some pictures taken 3 years ago.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:35 AM   #2
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Hi Etienne

Welcome to the forums.

The choice ultimately is yours but I will offer some observations.

- 1970s era Sovereigns are abundant on the used market and generally are sold for lower prices than Airstreams of other eras. On the other hand, from the photos, the general condition of this one appears to be somewhat better than many, except for the mold.

- It is likely that you will have to replace the carpet and curtains and reupholster the cushions. I'm not sure about the layout of the carpet in this model but in general carpet is installed at the factory before the gaucho and cabinetry, so you may have to remove the gaucho and the cabinetry to remove the carpet.

- You may have to patch the floor in places. If there is any flex when walking on it, it's bad. Check particularly under the skylights and corners.

- You'll probably never get rid of all the mold. Some people are quite sensitive to even the smallest traces of it, others are not. If you or anyone likely to travel with you has mold allergies you may want to find another trailer.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emanboulay View Post
Hi everyone,

I've been reading on this site for some times now. I think this is the best place to get a sound advice on a delicate question like the one that follows. So here we go.

I've been looking for an Airstream for some times now. I thought I found the right one a couple of weeks ago, an all original 1977 31' Sovereign. The lady who is selling bought it from the original owner with everything working two years ago. She parked it in her backyard and didn't touch anything since then.

Here comes the not so good part of the story... Last summer kids played in the Airstream and opened the windows. When rain started to fall, the owner went in and closed the windows... but forgot to close the two roof vents. This was discovered only in January!

You can imagine the odour in the Airstream when we visited. There is mold on the walls and the wallpaper is coming off in some corners. I lifted the carpet in some corners and found the floor wet (a small line) close to the walls. Mold is also present on the curtains.

I know that mold is not a small thing to deal with and I'm ready to spend the time necessary to clean the unit. I still want to know what's your feeling on the extent of the damage. How bad do you think this thing can be?

Also, many windows are unsealed and will need to be taken care of. I read on the forum about the breaking glass solution for the Sky lights so I understand that this is not a small job. But is this a common problem on this model?

Overall, do you think I should run away from this or this may be not as bad as it seems?

Thanks in advance!

Etienne

p.s. We agreed for $ 4k for the Airstream. She paid $ 7.5k two years ago. I've attached some pictures taken 3 years ago.
Since you have seen some mold, then the question becomes, where all is it???

You would need to make absolutely sure that it was all removed.

In order to do that, the trailer would need to be completely gutted, and remove all the interior metal and headliners.

Is that a job you want to tackle??

The mold issue is far worse than damages.

Andy
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:43 AM   #4
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Fresno , California
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Welcome

Hello, Welcome to the forums. I too have recently purchase a '77 31' Sovereign that sat for about 2 year before I purchased it. Thankfully, I have no water or mold issues. Well, at least to my knowledge. You never know what lurks in dark corners.
I had a mold issue in a classic car I own. I left it closed up too long. I was all fired up for a cruise one spring day and found mold covering a 50% of the surfaces inside. I wasn't sure how to clean/kill the mold. I knew bleach would damage the material so I used a strong vinegar/water solution. I haven't seen the mold since.
For the water, if the floor isn't rotted, hopefully not since it doesn't sound like it was left open and soggy for years and years. Maybe try a dehumidafier (sp.?) to help pull out some moisture. Pray that it's not so bad that you have to gut it. Ahh, what a nightmare.
Thanks for post the pics. We have the same floor plan as you do. But I don't have the awesome yellow countertops! (jealous)
Good luck and I hope you get to use it soon! We just got our in January. We had to do some brake work and my husband just replaced the toilet among a few other odds and ends. We are going to use it for the first time this Sunday and then off to Oregon at the end of the month!
Again, welcome to the forums. You'll meet a ton of friend and helpful people here!
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:50 AM   #5
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1977 31' Sovereign
Fresno , California
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p.s. $4K sounds like a good price.
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1977 31' Sovereign "The Mod Pod"
2006 Ford F-250 Super Duty
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:07 PM   #6
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1977 31' Sovereign
Trois-Rivičres , Quebec
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Thanks for your quick replies everyone. I have the two voice dilemma! The optimistic one, Hi Cara!, who is telling me “go man jump in this and if you’re lucky this will be a best case scenario” and the other one like Andy and Jammer who whispers to me “be wise my friend and wait for the better one”. My heart is on Cara's side but the mind is holding me back!

The carpet will be removed that’s for sure. But will I have to undo some walls to check how bad this got as Andy is saying? If so, we’re not ready to camp for a long time I think.

Any other inputs here will be welcomed, I will take my decision at the latest tomorrow.

Thanks again!

Etienne
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:32 PM   #7
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On the plus side... Can't tell for sure but the trailer is sitting nice and high so maybe the axles are OK. Rear end separation is another thing that could be a deal breaker.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:01 PM   #8
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Have you thought about having one of the forum experts to come look at it for you? That way you can really know what you are getting yourself into.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:10 PM   #9
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by desertair27 View Post
Have you thought about having one of the forum experts to come look at it for you? That way you can really know what you are getting yourself into.
Nop. The Airstream is up in Ontario and I'm about 3 to 4 hours away. Truly a good idea when feasible.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:34 PM   #10
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I couldn't resist my inner voice telling me to buy buy buy so I bought it and started reading everything I could find when I stumbled onto the forums here. What a wealth of knowledge. I initially thought I had made a major mistake when I read I might have rear end separation, bad axles and a whole host of other problems. In the end I did need to replace my axles which you will more than likely need as well. I did the axles myself and they really aren't that hard to do.
Looks like you are already headed in the right direction since you're here on the forums arming yourself with as much info as possible. I guess the mold and possible floor problems are your biggest deciding factor.research as much as you can.
Good luck
Mike
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:49 PM   #11
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1977 31' Sovereign
Trois-Rivičres , Quebec
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What about the windows? Is it normal for the year to have a number of unsealed windows (glass)?
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by emanboulay
What about the windows? Is it normal for the year to have a number of unsealed windows (glass)?
What do you mean unsealed? That year should have double pane windows that usually have bubbled window tint. I have the same year you're looking at with a little different floor plan.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:20 PM   #13
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I'll pass . . .
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:48 PM   #14
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Many windows have condensation between the two panes. It's probably common but I wanted to make sure it was not another abnormal situation.

edit... the subject seems to have been looked at from avery side possible on the forum. So I guess this can be qualified as a newbie question!

Thanks
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