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Old 03-18-2012, 12:41 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1963 30' Sovereign
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 15
'63 Sovereign Project - BC Canada

We purchased a 1963 Sovereign in Feb. 2010 and towed it home to dry out. Now in March, 2012 we have started the renovation in earnest and hope to have it somewhat ready to celebrate the old girl's 50th anniversary in 2013.

This forum has so much information it is hard to absorb but we will use the search feature and likely still ask many dumb and already answered questions and beg your patience. We have enjoyed the photos and updates and decided to jump right in and start a thread.

We have some of the supplies on hand and have ordered the Aircraft Tools rivet remover - will get started on the removing the interior skins and belly pan as soon as it arrives.

All the built in furniture and systems are out - drilling out the interior rivets (my job, I'm the weak one and can't do the really heavy stuff) was not too difficult as they have the little dimple but we are waiting for the rivet removal tool to start on the blind rivets. What is the difference between a blind rivet and a buck rivet? The two air conditioner units are off (heavy brutes) and were beyond repair - don't think we need A/C here on the wet west coast of BC - likely stick with the Fantastic or similar fans.

We have the floor out and the frame needs a lot of work. We plan to do a shell off job and are very fortunate in having a large shop with very high ceilings and strong joists so will hang it up high enough to do the frame and floor. From our reading it seems that a long, strong timber along the inside with eye bolts through all five ceiling openings to chains and on up to the roof joists should work. Please feel free to offer advice! Any suggestion of the weight of a 30 foot shell? We are guessing between 500 and 1,000 pounds?

Any advice on the best system to number / identify the interior panels as we remove them?

We are trying hard not to jump ahead and start planning the interior - lots of grunting work to do first but all the windows work (will need re-setting but work well) and the space is so bright and nice.
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Old 03-18-2012, 01:28 PM   #2
Don McKelvay
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1994 34' Limited
London , Ontario
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 101
Congratulations Lunadog,
I do not have any helpful information other than I am sure it will be a gem when you are finished. You are correct there is lots of help here on AirForums so ask away and hopefully others will answer. I am originally from Vancouver - 35th & Dundbar.
Make sure you post more wonderful pictures as you go along.

Don McKelvay
WBCCI #205
AIR #42
1994 34' Limited
2004 GMC 2500 HD
Hensley Hitch
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Old 03-18-2012, 02:46 PM   #3
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1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
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Welcome to the forums! Just a comment about the air conditioning. If you have the budget for it, I think I'd include it. I can speak from experience that it does get very warm inside this things, even in Vancouver. The ceiling fans don't always cool the trailer enough, I found. It's not so bad if you can find shade to park under, but if you're exposed to the sun, it heats up very quickly. Cute pup!
Cameron & the Labradors
Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
AIR #11529
Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Mame Dennis
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Old 03-18-2012, 04:53 PM   #4
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1959 26' Overlander
Nowhere , Washington
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 572
Great trailer lunadog, I look forward to watching your restoration. Keep track of which order you take the interior skins out and lable them based on location. They overlap each other and if you put them back on in the wrong order it is a pain in the neck (I made this mistake on my restoration). You should only need to drill out the pop rivets to remove the interior skins. The buck rivted sheets on the cealing come out as one big piece that you have to roll up to get out the door. Unless you can't get it out the door or front or rear windows, you don't want to drill the buck rivets.
Norm and Mary
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Old 03-19-2012, 01:57 PM   #5
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1973 31' Sovereign
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 15
Congratulations! And what a project to take on! We are also new AS owners, of a '73 Sovereign. Ours needs much attention, and likely a new subfloor. We will be keeping an eye out for your progress!
We are also in Vancouver. But we store our AS down in the states, as we have no space for it here. Lucky that you have covered storage and space to work!
Good luck!!
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:50 PM   #6
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1963 22' Safari
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Yakima Valley , Washington
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I used grease pencil on the back of the panels, but ended up going back with an engraver and marking the back side of each panel since I ended up paint stripping many of the panels while they were out. Looking forward to watching your progress!
Scott & Megan
WBCCI #8671 Oregon Unit


Tappan range oven (for spare parts)
baby moons for stock rims with clips
twist drawer knobs and their face frame screw in hook


Marvel Refrigerator

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Old 03-19-2012, 07:08 PM   #7
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1966 22' Safari
1964 24' Tradewind
1956 18' "Footer"
Southern , Minnesota
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 114
I used a black sharpie marking all pieces on the non-showing side with as much location info as possible, usually SS (streetwise) or CS (curbside) front or aft at least. AND TAKE MANY PHOTOS. Have fun, take your time, and keep asking questions. It's a good bunch of folk here and we're all in this together. Peace and Blues!
life is too short to drink cheap beer...unless that's all we've got and then pass me a cold one!

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Old 03-19-2012, 11:09 PM   #8
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Congratulations! What a great project! Basically a blind rivet (pop rivet) interior rivets, belly pan , belt line trim, etc. Solid rivets are bucket rivets. you need to use a 3X rivet gun, a rivet set and a buddy on a bucking bar. Pretty easy to do. I just wrapped up an extensive frame repair/ floor replacement. Check it out!
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:43 AM   #9
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1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
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COOL! Another '63!!!

It looks like you have a really nice project and being able to work inside of a building is a real plus.

I didn't have too much of an issue with the interior panels, the old ones were only useable as patterns for new aluminum and the multiple layers of paint made it easy to see the pattern of assembly. I just layed them on the ground and matched up the edges, kinda like a huge puzzle...

So far my least favorite part on my '63 has been in insulation. Even though it wasn't the messy, itchy fiberglass it was incredibly boring.

I would second the suggestion to add back atleast one AC unit. An aluminum shell is a great absorber of solar and they get hot pretty quickly in the sun.

I look forward to following this thread.
Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
and a 26' '63 Overlander, Dolly
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:15 AM   #10
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1997 30' Excella
1961 26' Overlander
1954 22' Flying Cloud
1981 28' Airstream 280
San Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,269
Nice!!! I too, have a 63 Sov. Can you post a picture of the street side as what you have posted mine looks exactly like yours. Mine is a Calif. model. BTW nice Great Pyr-male or female and name? The one in my avitar is our Bo, just one of 6.

I will follow this thread closely!! Good luck!!
WBCCI# 9259 AIR# 38927 TAC-TX 14
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He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:23 PM   #11
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1963 30' Sovereign
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 15

Thank you all for such great welcome and replies!

Our dog is Luna - a 3 year old female Maremma and a very sweet girl - all 91 pounds of her! cameron, your labs look very beautiful and bwoodtx, your Bo is a beauty!

Our 63 is from Jackson Centre, Ohio. Unfortunately the photo of the street side is not that good as it is hard to get far enough back to get a good photo but a darkish one attached. Love all the windows.

We have the airstream in our shop on one of the Northern Gulf Islands but I registered as Vancouver as that is sort of home too. The shop is great for this for sure. I think the recent weather here - snow, major wind, 3 power outages in two weeks - is why we think we might not need A/C but will re-consider that for sure when we get to that stage.

We really appreciate all the advice and information - will be following all your threads (when we have power)
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:24 PM   #12
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1963 30' Sovereign
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 15
Meant to attach a photo but forgot to "upload"
This is the street side
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:23 AM   #13
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1963 30' Sovereign
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 15
We now have the steel for the cross member replacements and the plywood for the sub-floor. The steel is from a fabricating shop and they did a great job. We decided to use Crezon 3/4" good 2 sides plywood. We really want this floor to be as solid as possible after seeing what how the original one deteriorated.

When the belly pan is off and the shell lifted I'll post more photos.

We are thinking of using Roxul for insulation - anyone used it?

4 goransons - we did find the oven burner for you - check your pms.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:46 AM   #14
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1963 30' Sovereign
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 15
Update - top is off

Big News (for us at least) to report! After a few months delay (thousands of rivets drilled out) we finally have the shell off.

Concerned about the shell bowing, drawn down by the weight at the ends, we built a 12 inch wide ladder out of 2 x 4's that ran the flat part of the shell ceiling (photo one below).

We attached two hoists to the shop ceiling trusses strategically positioned over two of the five roof opening (photo two) and attached hoist and ladder with 3/4 inch rebar (photo three).

To prevent spreading of the bottom of the shell some 1 x 4 was attached to the ribs in two places. There were not many locations to do this as many of our ribs did not proceed down into the channel (photo four) The channel is mostly toast for after 50 years the dissimilar metals has corroded the channel. Any suggestions for isolating the channel from the cross members would be appreciated. Does anyone in the Pacific Northwest (Canada or USA) have a good source for sheet aluminum to replace some of the inside panels and belly pan?

Here she is sitting on milk crates with a slight bit of tension on the hoists (photo five) awaiting the repaired/welded trailer. That is the next big job . . .
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