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Old 11-11-2012, 01:15 PM   #1
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Tomball , Texas
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'73 Sov - Can of Worms!

A quick back story on this build and myself. Im 26 and have NEVER owned a trailer or really dealt with them at all. I got the idea to purchase a trailer as a temp living solution to put on a small piece of property while we tore down the structure that was already there, and built another.

After looking at newer model trailers and their quickly depreciating value, I stumbled across airstreams and their wide ranging prices due to the corresponding condition. Being fairly handy, I thought I would have no problems getting a deal on one that was in fair shape, fixing it up a bit and possibly reselling it later with little to no loss.....I've since decided to keep it.

I bought a 73 30' Sov rear bath model b/c the floor plan was appealing and the size seemed to be able to accommodate US....

Bought the trailer in Dallas, and drug it home to the Houston suburbs knowing the bathroom needed some repairs, but under the impression that other than that everything on the trailer was in working order. As I started tearing apart the rear bath, constantly wondering why everything was in the condition it was back there I did into the "rear separation" issue here on the forums, and start finding clues.

Long story Short, I end up tearing up the entire rear floor of the trailer and finding that the frame channel on the curb side had at one point broken completely behind the rear axle and been semi repaired from the outside. The Black tank was broken open and the floor in the bathroom was in really bad shape in all the areas that couldnt be seen.

I've tried not to let myself get out of hand with the repairs because I can be really particular about things, but its gotten to the point that I think all of these repairs could really help the next guy in line. Pictures will be following in the next few days, but this is what I was working on today...

The curb side wheel well had been damaged after things started settling due to the frame damage and from what I had found, there was not a suitable direct replacement that I could buy that wasnt ridiculously priced, and even with that the replacement needed modifications to fit correctly. SO....I have decided to build one for myself out of 16G aluminum. And this is the start:

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Old 11-11-2012, 01:31 PM   #2
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Take heart, we've all been there.

Being "particular" can be a problem--doing it right takes time, which keeps the Airstream away from it's intended duty, touring and camping. But who wants to have to do it over? It's a conundrum.

Zep
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Old 11-11-2012, 02:06 PM   #3
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Balance

Well if you can fabricate and install as well as you design you should have only two remaining challenges; time and $$.
Zep is correct, fixing works to the detriment of fun.
And fixing an Airstream isn't as fun as camping in one.
I became so tired of restoring this one that I sold it and took a four-year vacation from Airstreams.
So find the right balance between fixing and enjoying.
We are here for you.
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:58 AM   #4
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I'm very familiar to this concept. I've been building 4wd trail rigs out of my toyotas for years, until I threw in the towel and sold it all to invest in this venture.

I spent the better part of 5 years building different trucks, and actually got to wheel my own rig twice! I do enjoy the build an fabrication, problem solving and creativity of it all. This wasn't exactly supposed to start out that way, but here we go!
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Old 11-12-2012, 04:14 PM   #5
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I hope you can repair the frame you have. For me, if I had a rusted and broke frame, I would just build an entirely new one. Some folks think it is a bad idea to build a stronger frame. I am not of that mindset. All frames will flex, but to have one that breaks is not acceptable. Avion and Silver Streak didn't have these problems. In the AS, the body is part of the structure, but when the body seperates from the frame, or the frame breaks, major damage can occur. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:17 AM   #6
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Floor and frame damage

Without a doubt rust from leaks and Airstreams 70's design defect ( shell skin on outside of banana wrap ) letting h20 into the under floor areas is a simple fix....weld or do whats needed to repair frame, outrigger damage and properly re-seal / caulk where wrap overlaps shell skin and caulk aluminum trim pieces to keep water out. Additionally I have drilled 1/8 " holes in low spots in wrap and belly skin to let water out. I can't imagine the conditions under a Airstream being towed in heavy rain. Gonna get wet all over. Check how the area around the step is NOT sealed and very vulnerable. 2nd point. I'm now a firm believer that alot of frame damage is caused by old torsion axles that the rubber cushioning / flexing / twisting is gone because the rubber has solidified considerable. Try driving your car or truck without springs.....Terrible ride and thusly causes the entire trailer to get beat up with every bump. The only cushioning on a vintage Airstream is the little give in the tires and what may be left in the axle rubber. I have installed new axles in a 77 31' rear bath and it gained ~ 3+ inches in height and the ride is much softer. Everything inside stays in place much better and it has to reduce the fatigue on the frame , shell etc. New axles are a good investment.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:55 PM   #7
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The very first thing everyone should do if they take down their belly pan is to remove the fiberglass insulation under the floor. It is a filthy, soggy mess. It sags, gets wet, and retains that wetness against the frame. Ick and yuck.

Replace it with direct burial type solid foam, like here in my Safari! I also did this in the Caravel, and will eventually do it in the Overlander.

Zep
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:29 AM   #8
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I never put fiberglass insulation back in rv's that have water damages.....just makes no sense. I like the aluminum clad sheathing type. Adds a "reflective barrier" to repel heat....
Good looking job down under....
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:18 PM   #9
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I got some time in today and got all the pieces for the wheel wells cut and bent. I also just ordered my rivet kit and Tempro 635 from Vintage Trailer Supply. Hopefully they will turn the order around quick so that I can try my hand at solid riveting and get these things assembled.

On a side note. I was surprised to find that the wheel well openings on opposing sides of trailer where not the same. There was a 3.5" difference in length between the two! I think its safe to assume these relieves where hand cut....
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:45 AM   #10
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Well, got in my first round of rivets. I hadnt messed with solid riveting at all before, but it turns out there isnt much to it, not that you cant learn from you tube and the good ol' interweb anyhow. Here are some progress pics on the wheel wells.

Test Sample....



All holes drilled and everything in position...



Tempro laid...



And here is where I ended the night...

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Old 12-02-2012, 12:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TxBxSx View Post
Well, got in my first round of rivets. I hadnt messed with solid riveting at all before, but it turns out there isnt much to it, not that you cant learn from you tube and the good ol' interweb anyhow. Here are some progress pics on the wheel wells.
The plastic wheel well covers, inside as well as outside, cost less than $ 70.00 each.

The big cost of them is shipping.

There really is no mods needed to use them.

The plastic covers have a huge advantage over any metal covers in that vibration won't cause cracks in them.

That becomes a huge plus.

Andy
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:03 PM   #12
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I used 3032 aluminum because I knew I would be forming it, so they should had plenty of flex before cracking.

I looked into the plastic wells, and your right in the fact that the shipping gets a little outta hand. With it costing almost 200 for just one with shipping(which is all I needed), I decided to build my own. Spent 120 on the aluminum and have plenty left over, and I feel a lot more confident to them holding up to a blow out.
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:53 PM   #13
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Good for you! Keep things within reach and reasonable!
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:49 PM   #14
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Good for you! Keep things within reach and reasonable!
Its funny that your say that, because that is the exact idea behind this trailer. It seems I see alot of guys here building these as a hobby and sort of recreation, but this trailer is going to be our day to day way of life for the next 2-3 years.

Building a house seemed to be out of reach and I'm tired of throwing money away renting, so I figured getting started on a trailer was possible. Once we get this thing put together and out on our property, the game is gonna change with the fact that I'll be spending about a third monthly on our home expenses. After a few years of that we'll be able to put up a very "reasonable" home, and have a rad trailer to get out on the road with from time to time.
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