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Old 02-04-2011, 10:03 AM   #15
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1961 28' Ambassador
1975 31' Excella 500
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Again, you guys are GREAT!

I will certainly read those and follow the suggestions from Ken above. I really appreciate the pointers.

There isn't a smell, well that you really notice, except for the holding tank scents. I am going to try to use some kind of lemon duster/furniture polish restorer on the wood and see if I can get a shine, and a clean smell in her.

Plus, my friend John was raised Amish and will be helping me... he can fix anything. He is a diesel mechanic, has a CDL (A & B), and is a marvel with woodworking and other things. I figure to pay him to help me (although he would do it for free).

Thanks again!

I'll try to show the work I do - if my camera will work. Thanks!
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:15 AM   #16
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Yes, please post pics as you go along, we would love to see the work you're doing.

If you have access to an Amish-trained carpenter, you're going to be just fine. He'll probably have some suggestions on furniture restorers, but I've had good luck with Howard Feed N Wax.

You can find modern replacements for any of the missing appliances that should at least come close to fitting, but to replace the original tub it would be easiest to find one that someone else has taken out. So, you might try searching the classified ads here on the AirForums, and posting a want ad of your own there. Sometimes people part out old trailers that are too far gone to restore (and sadly sometimes people gut perfectly good trailers to turn them into hot dog stands).
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:25 AM   #17
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(and sadly sometimes people gut perfectly good trailers to turn them into hot dog stands).
Great advise from Ken and Marcus. Those two threads are full of tons of helpful information. I'll just pass on these two cents - for goodness sake don't start gutting your trailer unless you are prepared to a) spend a lot of time and money putting it back together or b) get stuck with a virtually worthless hunk of aluminum. That trailer looks pretty good right now and, if you do decide to sell, you should be able to get a few grand for it (or even more if you can find a fool like I was when I first got into this racket ) in quick order. But once the innards are strewn about your garage and yard, the value plumets like a rock.
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:39 AM   #18
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All great advise above. We're glad you're keeping her and she'll be kind to you while you slowly fix her up. No camping trailer on the road can compare to a vintage Airstream and its lasted this long and with the fixes you'll be doing, it will last another 50 years. Keep your eyes on the classifieds as vintage stoves, and even tubs come up from time to time. Does the fridge work or have you tried it yet?

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Old 02-04-2011, 10:45 AM   #19
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rose colored advice?

I am not so sure about much of this advice given 61 amb. situation.

All appliances are gone and tub is missing...........

His budget is a few thousand $$$.......................

OH, and I think he mentioned some of the floor is gone..........

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Is it even remotely ethical after all we know to suggest using penetrating epoxy to fix a rotting floor?

This is a big job and much more costly then suggested. And since when does rodent urine smell sweet?
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:45 AM   #20
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Rose colored advice - naaaa

Again - we are comparing to this to a popup - has limited facilities, dry rot to me sounds like soft floor, not "floor is gone" - and nothing wrong with using epoxy for a soft floor in limited sections - I should mention make sure you take a hair dryer and dry it good before you put the epoxy down. I've done it and it works well - long term needs to replace the some or all of the floor and he's said above it does not smell too bad.

So we are talking about making this trailer into something that can be used and enjoyed for now, then as money and motiivation comes about, can be upgraded.

I also hear local trips - perfect for that

From the pictures I see a decent trailer that could be a nice hobby

The kids will have a blast and will always remember Dads old trailer that this and that was messed up on it, but over time the whole family got involved in fixing it up and really having some great times, not only camping but working on it

All in all sounds pretty great to me - you should have seen what I started with....

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Old 02-04-2011, 12:16 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Ken J View Post
Again - we are comparing to this to a popup - has limited facilities, dry rot to me sounds like soft floor, not "floor is gone" - and nothing wrong with using epoxy for a soft floor - I should mention make sure you take a hair dryer and dry it good before you put the epoxy down. I've done it and it works well - long term needs to replace the some or all of the floor and he's said above it does not smell too bad.

So we are talking about making this trailer into something that can be used and enjoyed for now, then as money and motiivation comes about, can be upgraded.

I also hear local trips - perfect for that

From the pictures I see a decent trailer that could be a nice hobby

The kids will have a blast and will always remember Dads old trailer that this and that was messed up on it, but over time the whole family got involved in fixing it up and really having some great times, not only camping but working on it

All in all sounds pretty great to me - you should have seen what I started with....

Ken J.
I just do not see how this work could be done with a few thousand dollars considering all the missing fixtures. I would advise that the floor is one of the things that holds the trailer together and the epoxy bandaid approach really is not an ethical repair. The floor is soft because of moisture and until the source of that is fixed it will be a problem.

Suggesting 61 start repairs on his limited resources without completely explaining the entire process while waxing romantically about how great it will be to involve the kids & gramps sounds like one of those morning in America political ads from the mid eighties. Look how that turned out!

All repairs should be long term when repairing an Airstream. This is the only way to really make it last. And hold value while not having to go back and repair it again.

Ken....what bothers me about the approach is...is that I have heard it before from guys trying to sell a trailer with soft and missing floors. Just trowel in some epoxy goo and it will be good as new" ......but they luckily never even got around to that. So Mr. Ambassador would be much better off becoming the seller....minus the floor fixing advice.
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:59 PM   #22
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My floors are not soft... I just can see a very small piece of the floor right inside the door, under the linoleum, where the wood is kind of rotted. It is only maybe 3-4 inches square. It's not soft, and is not rotted through... just has been wet on top. The other area is under the sink along the rear of the trailer, it is out of sight and can not be walked on so there is no danger of the flow falling through.

To be honest the floors are fine without any work, there are not any areas that I can see through or feels soft when I stand and bounce on it.

I know I'm new, but the PO owns his own business and works in the oil field around here... he's very savvy and he said the floor is sound. He put in laminate flooring about 5-6 years ago and the only leaks I have found are around the seals on the windows. I cannot locate any others and I've been in it every time it rains hard to check for any wet spots. The floor should be fine for what I need.

All trips will be 30 miles or less - and not over 55 MPH. Roads are hilly and curvy so speeds likely will be 35-45 MPH.

The original fridge is there, and as of the last PO check (which I believe) was still working. If nothing else, it is there and can be an ice-box. I have an electric mini-fridge I can put there for use at campgrounds if nothing else. And if that fails, we are old tent campers and have large coolers to sit on the ground outside the camper.

The toilet is there and works fine. The black water tank works - I just plan on getting a rolling tote and emptying into that for ease of use.

So - all I really HAVE to do is (1) fix the copper pipe break in the water line on the inside and I'll have cold running water to flush with and brush teeth, dishes, etc. We'll shower in the shelter house. (2) Make sure my brakes work and run a new electric line to them and install a 7 pole connector (3) Add a breakway switch (4) new tires (5) get some foam for the twin beds (6) Fix the broken vent cover (one end came loose, but still opens and closes)... and then I should be fine.

I think I can have all this done for under $1K... the rest are just little things I already have.

The body is in good condition, normal dents and dings, but no holes. Belly pan is good condition.

As I said - we're used to tent camping... so with a solid floor and electric we're already a step up... the only other thing, and it's the MAIN thing I am worried about is safety while towing. Hence, the need to make sure brakes are hooked up and a new 7 pole and breakaway is added. My mechanic buddy said the brakes and axles are fine for now.

Hope this clears it up somewhat.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:04 PM   #23
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When I wrote the above I figured I would hear from someone who did not agree with me - thats ok - the trailer has lasted 50 years as is. I don't see it going anywhere fast and as 61 said above it is a solid trailer. There is nothing wrong with using epoxy - especially as I've said till you can get around to replacing that section of the floor depending on the size of the repair - you are right you should find the source of what made it soft to begin with - as far as sellers go - its up to the buyer to determine the condtion of the floor - we are not talking about selling it - we are talking about making it a usable trailer - I think this makes for a great thread on what do you really need to make a trailer useable.

You keep mentioning fixtures - they plan to cook over a fire - thats great! You don't need a full set a fixtures to take the trailer out and have some great camping fun. Even a porta potty in the trailer will be a step up from pop-up facilities.

We all don't have the same resources to fix these trailers up - I spent a TON of money on mine - we can't all do that but it doesn't mean we can't have fun and enjoy what we have - I've seen a LOT worse trailers traveling the countryside and these folks are having a blast with their trailers.

If I had a choice of keep this trailer or a pop-up or white box and I had limited resources - I would keep the trailer and work on it over time as suggested. And all I'm doing is suggesting how that can be done on a limited budget.

I say keep it and enjoy!

Ken J.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:10 PM   #24
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61 - The more I hear about this trailer it sounds like you have a great find there - and it sounds like you have gone through it pretty good -

Have a GREAT time with you and your family camping - 30 miles won't hardly even shake a rivet!

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Old 02-04-2011, 02:13 PM   #25
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Oh, and I have NO intention of tearing anything out inside... all is present and original (minus the stove, heater, water heater, and tub). I added a new water pump. My only plan inside is to try and put some old wood restorer on the original woodwork to see if maybe it will shine a little and smell good.

I'm easy to please... I want (1) Safety for myself and others while towing (2) Reasonably waterproof, no more tent walls seeping water (3) Electric lighting, no AA or D batteries (4) a door... the rest is details.

Thank you all again for your comments. I appreciate and value them all.

We were given the camper by the PO, he is a very nice man and this was just sitting in his field. I'd have gladly paid him for it, but all he wanted was to see someone get use out of it. He lent it to a buddy who took the stove, water heater, heater, etc out for a supposed reason of they 'broke' when he used them.

I plan on nickeling and diming my way to a nice trailer by putting $1K into it each year around tax time. If the general consensus feels this is plausible... if not, then I'll sell it to someone with the money and time and skills to fix it up like she deserves. I'd LOVE to keep it... I've loved AS since I was a boy in the 80's and my Grandpa had several of them. You might say it's been a dream of mine for 30+ years now!
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:34 PM   #26
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We have been enjoying our Minuet while restoring for the last 4 summers. Each winter I spend between $300 and $500 on the next project. So far new axle, counter, table, replaced gray and black dump valves, restored belly pan, replaced the vent fan, screens, some plumbing repairs, lots of little repairs that were mostly just time. Each summer it is a better trailer. We still need to replace furnace, curtains, upholstery, floor covering, some new gaskets, polish out the lexan windows, and paint the exterior. I want to add 30# Aluminum propane tanks, a second battery, and solar. Figure another 5-7 years and it will be complete except for the regular upkeep. I would recomend you keep the trailer, use it if you can and just keep picking at the project.
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:02 PM   #27
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61 - Hope you don't think I'm responding too much - some folks have all the luck - a free trailer is great!

I think your plan is VERY sound - get the running gear safe - get some cushions to sleep on - fix the plumbing (not a big expense - more time than money) and enjoy it this summer - when the summer is over, decide your project for next year and keep at it - it will get done. As you get into applieances/fixtures it does get pricey - but again pace it out and enjoy it.

Let us know what you find as you use it, you can learn how to fix it here - ask away with questions..

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Old 02-04-2011, 03:25 PM   #28
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Hi,

Welcome to the Forums.

Wondering, why would someone remove the tub?

This trailer can be a work in progress.
Get the basics working and use it.

As funds become available, then upgrade the components.

Just my 2 cents..
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