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Old 08-25-2012, 08:06 PM   #1
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1975 Sovereign Airstream frame repair questions.

Hello, I'm new..

I'm a closet Airstreamer that's coming out.
my name is Jonathan, I'm a plumber/electrician/and certified MVAC tech, with ASE 1-6.. so allot of the issues on mine have already been fixed, the one thing I'm not is a welder....Yet


I just bought an airstream with the mind of knowing that I'm going to have to repair the frame. The rear end has separated to the point where the frame is broken on the right rear side, (but their is some silver rod that isn't that's inside of the frame??what is that) and what looks like long bolts that went into the wood;(?) are no longer connected.., can someone asses the damage by these photos real quick and tell me what all needs to be done? and please don't say anything about a shell off, because the interior is in amazing condition, and ripping that stuff out to me is out of the question. drilling out sections of the floor i'm fine with.. I have been reading here alot, and it seems that a gentleman by the name of andy seems to be a good authority in these matters..

1.)Can anyone tell if the axles need replacing by these photos? if not how do I tell?

2.)what caused the rear end to separate like this? bad running gear balance or lack their of? Some places even said AS mounted tanks in a bad area in the rear? (I don't trust this as AS have several engineers that test this stuff hardcore..) Do new axles come with running gear Already balanced from inland RV or any other place anyone knows about?? Finding that snap on tool is almost impossible to balance the running gear

3.)Where can I order the pieces I need for this repair? i'm going to take it to a welder I know, and I want to be able to provide the parts to him that are the correct ones. Fabrication to me goes against how these were manufactured, and AS engineers usually know what their doing, so I'm not a big fan of backyard fixes. For the record I'm not knocking anyone who fixes them properly in the backyard, just so long as their done properly.

Money is not an Issue here, this is going to be a gift to my mother, and I want this done right..I know I'm going to be doing allot of cleaning on the AS.


Their's much controversy on how to fix "rear end separation", So much in fact I cant discern fact from fiction about it anymore. Whats overkill, whats not..etc. I have seen many shell off's, where people gutted it fixed it up, and never put the furniture back in,and sold it for 2k or less.. I do not want to end up like one of those people.


pictures are on page 10,11

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Old 08-25-2012, 09:02 PM   #2
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Howdy and to Airforums.com! There are many threads detailing restoration of trailers with rusted frame members, but I think that you are going to have to go to a radical process; it's called "frame-off" restoration. Do a search on that and you will find many thread about it.

But don't panic, there are plenty of people on here ready to give you advice with the project. Ask lots of questions if you aren't sure, and take your time making any big decisions about the trailer.

Good luck!
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:21 PM   #3
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Welocme!
Not an answer to any of your questions, but it seems with all the rust and mold you have a lot of work ahead.
Your welder would have to see how far up the frame the rot goes, and if it can be easily fixed.
Inland or Vintage Trailer Supply is where we get our parts. For yours, I would call Inland for axles since (imo) if your frame is in this condition, then you axles are gone.
Damn glad we and our 75 live in a dry climate after looking through your pictures.
Good luck!
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:34 PM   #4
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Welocme!
Not an answer to any of your questions, but it seems with all the rust and mold you have a lot of work ahead.
Your welder would have to see how far up the frame the rot goes, and if it can be easily fixed.
Inland or Vintage Trailer Supply is where we get our parts. For yours, I would call Inland for axles since (imo) if your frame is in this condition, then you axles are gone.
Damn glad we and our 75 live in a dry climate after looking through your pictures.
Good luck!
I agree that your separation looks to be a result of rotted frame and likely plywood subfloor. You have a cracked and extruding aluminum u channel That may be able to be removed and welded. Your investment will be in frame members, welding and plywood subfloor.

I've done a rear end separation fix with the shell on, it can be done. Bathroom will have to come out and the back of the belly pan dropped. One you are inside the trailer and can see the ground through what's left of th frame you can then rebuild. Welding, rust converting, plywood sandwich in the uchannel with elevator bolts to hold it together.

The running gear and axles are important but I don't see the value of getting them done first unless you completely committed to see this thing through. Once you start tearing the trailer apart you will likely see far more important issues than axles.
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big C View Post
Welocme!
Not an answer to any of your questions, but it seems with all the rust and mold you have a lot of work ahead.
Your welder would have to see how far up the frame the rot goes, and if it can be easily fixed.
Inland or Vintage Trailer Supply is where we get our parts. For yours, I would call Inland for axles since (imo) if your frame is in this condition, then you axles are gone.
Damn glad we and our 75 live in a dry climate after looking through your pictures.
Good luck!

yeah, i would suggest to everyone in a wet climate to POR 15 the entire frame, hitch, everything metal in the underpan, saltwater EATS these frames.
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:52 PM   #6
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I agree that your separation looks to be a result of rotted frame and likely plywood subfloor. You have a cracked and extruding aluminum u channel That may be able to be removed and welded. Your investment will be in frame members, welding and plywood subfloor.

I've done a rear end separation fix with the shell on, it can be done. Bathroom will have to come out and the back of the belly pan dropped. One you are inside the trailer and can see the ground through what's left of th frame you can then rebuild. Welding, rust converting, plywood sandwich in the uchannel with elevator bolts to hold it together.

The running gear and axles are important but I don't see the value of getting them done first unless you completely committed to see this thing through. Once you start tearing the trailer apart you will likely see far more important issues than axles.
Thank you so much, do you have a build thread you did that on? and when the stuff comes outta of the bathroom, what easily breaks so that i may know or anticipate what i may need to replace.

also what are these "u-channels" and "C channels" people keep talking about?
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:58 PM   #7
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Aft iron frame rot that fast would be a combination of leaking holding tanks and other long term water intrusion. The effluent salts and old fashion holding tank chemicals disappear iron in no time at all, or give a running start for rainwater to finish it off.

If Clear title transferred correctly, then and only then invest your efforts more than the self-rewarding NUKE THE MOLD chores.

You have about 30 hours required reading browsing the repairs section and seeking out the 5-to-50 page long refurb threads...
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:04 PM   #8
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I was able to do the job based completely on threads found on the forums. I didn't document my process. When I bought the safari I formerly owned the back floor dipped when you stepped on it and that's how I knew. No shell off as I had nowhere to maintain the work for more than a couple days at a time.

My suggestion though is not to nibble away at pulling the bathroom out. It is considerable work and will be a pain not yanking everything out and will just make your job harder. Label items, draw sketches of the order the bathroom was put together so it goes back in easier. You may wind up mating pex to copper, cutting away your vent and drain lines, etc. But again you will be best off documenting everything with pictures and posting questions in real time to the forums.
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:09 PM   #9
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Aft iron frame rot that fast would be a combination of leaking holding tanks and other long term water intrusion. The effluent salts and old fashion holding tank chemicals disappear iron in no time at all, or give a running start for rainwater to finish it off.

If Clear title transferred correctly, then and only then invest your efforts more than the self-rewarding NUKE THE MOLD chores.

You have about 30 hours required reading browsing the repairs section and seeking out the 5-to-50 page long refurb threads...
i did work after katrina involving plastic wrapping buildings and pumping in chlorine as a gas i can have something similar done with the airstream. And yes, clear title did transfer i will be the 3rd owner.
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:35 PM   #10
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Money is not an Issue here, this is going to be a gift to my mother,

Will your mother be using the trailer behind a tow vehicle, or will it be mostly parked?

I'd fix a park model different than a road travel trailer.



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Old 08-25-2012, 10:48 PM   #11
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Will your mother be using the trailer behind a tow vehicle, or will it be mostly parked?

I'd fix a park model different than a road travel trailer.



`
She does SCA events, this is mainly why I'm getting it for her. So yes, the airstream will be on the road allot.
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:54 PM   #12
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As the owner of a 75 31 footer I can see you have a lot of reading and studying to do. I spent a month of reading on this forum before I really began my rebuild. I was only going to replace the last one foot of plywood, Now I'm building a new frame.
You don't know what you have in an Airstream until you take the belly pan off. Then you can see the extent of the damages.
Don't worry about cleaning up the inside, you will have plenty of time to clean as a lot of if not all the interior will have to come out to make the necessary repairs.
Most of your skills will be needed at some point, and you will acquire a few more if you continue with your AS.
As others have said don't order new axles Monday Morning see what condition your frame is in, repair the foundation(frame) then you have something to build on.
Not to rain on your parade but in 6 months tell me again about the HARDCORE Airstream engineers.
Good Luck
Jack
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Old 08-25-2012, 11:36 PM   #13
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She does SCA events, this is mainly why I'm getting it for her. So yes, the airstream will be on the road allot.
It needs a lot.

Best wishes with the project.


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Old 08-25-2012, 11:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 195Pilot View Post
As the owner of a 75 31 footer I can see you have a lot of reading and studying to do. I spent a month of reading on this forum before I really began my rebuild. I was only going to replace the last one foot of plywood, Now I'm building a new frame.
You don't know what you have in an Airstream until you take the belly pan off. Then you can see the extent of the damages.
Don't worry about cleaning up the inside, you will have plenty of time to clean as a lot of if not all the interior will have to come out to make the necessary repairs.
Most of your skills will be needed at some point, and you will acquire a few more if you continue with your AS.
As others have said don't order new axles Monday Morning see what condition your frame is in, repair the foundation(frame) then you have something to build on.
Not to rain on your parade but in 6 months tell me again about the HARDCORE Airstream engineers.
Good Luck
Jack
Belly pan is already off, and my welder says that only the rear 7 feet is damaged, 6 outriggers need replacing, and of course i need new plywood for that six feet. plus something about cross members? whichever the bill im looking at is about 800 to have it done in a week assuming the bathroom is ripped out and he can access the frame.. really wish i knew how to weld.

after he finishes the frame, its up to me to put new board down and bolt/rivet it back to the frame?put the bathroom back in and what not. this is the part i know nothing about, putting it back together, because when i bought it;it was as shown in the pictures.

Also, about the AS engineers, as the reading material described and what dealers tell ya, get that running gear balanced, and keep it that way. I have an ASE in suspension systems, and trust me, something after a while will break off without running gears balanced. put it in this perspective, think of your car, and not having the wheels balanced..real nasty vibration at 55 +MPH...now amplify that vibration 1 1/2 times for every 1k pounds..and then tell me, that something isn't gonna break off of a 5000k pound airstream.
(this is why they utilized torque axles,especially since it was made with lightweight material that could be pulled by the modern cars of that era. now everyone knows they have to get their wheels balanced to prevent this, just as everyone knew back in the 60's and 70's to get their running gear balanced when drums were standard all the way around a vehicle..

Now engineering flaws versus modernization are 2 VERY different subjects, and as I have seen, frame reinforcement on a 75 to be made like a 90s model, not a good idea. materials were made differently, etc etc etc. would have to rebuild a whole trailer that "Flexes" to a certain degree..and the ones after reading allot of these post and many others, tend to have problems with weld beads/points snapping near the brace plates and axles..

i have seen airstreams that were perfectly fine, for 40 years. assuming the maintenance was performed on them (INCLUDING RUNNING GEAR BALANCE, i can not stress enough how this is very important to have done). only reason axles had to be replaced was because the 4 torque strips of rubber become very dry/brittle after a while, use or no use, causes a horrible flex..hence the sagging.you see, as i haven't WORKED on an AS before, I ask questions, to be sure i know what to look for.

only the fool who thinks he knows everything about it, is truly the one that knows nothing :P old proverb. and no im not calling you a fool.
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