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Old 04-23-2016, 05:15 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
Ringwood , U.K.
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 7
Got carried away and now the Floors up!

Hi all, total newbie in the UK.

Have acquired a 1973 31ft sovereign just love it and am attempting to restore it. So far we have gutted the interior, some floor rot so we are taking the chance to put the whole floor out to check out the frame below.

It looks like the back end is separated from the floor. It had an elephant ears job done on it as some point. Have pulled out the rotted floor and have been surprised to find very little rot in the frame below.

Whilst the floor is up is it worth adding additional frame support to prevent tail sag developing? Any suggestions for DIY method? Not many dealers or specialist here to take it to and I am up for the challenge.

Is it worth beefing up the main frame back from the axel areas with Steele supports?

I've seen some thread with extra timber supports? Is that worth it?

Also is there a method to re secure the body to the floor from the inside of the trailer when the flooring and interior walls are removed?

I've bee over so many of the posts and it's clearly a mine field I'm struggling to consolidate a plan to move forward with!

Any suggestions gratefully received.
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:14 PM   #2
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
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Greetings Joysticks, welcome to the vintage Airstream hobby! You did get carried away. So now is the time to give serious consideration to a full renovation.

From what I understand the 70s trailers were plagued with "rear end separation" where the rear of the body, or "shell" become detached from the frame due to cross member rust and floor rot. I guess the trailers leaked rainwater quite badly at the intersection of the bumper storage and the body. It sounded like your trailer may have this common condition. Even newer trailers still have this design flaw.

Airstreams are built a bit like an old aircraft fuselage. The light weight frame is covered with light weight plywood, and then the light weight shell is attached to that. The whole structure is light and strong if all the members are doing their job. But loose the connection between the shell and the frame, the whole thing goes wobbly. I've heard it said the frame holds the shell up, and the shell holds the frame up.

Inspect the frame just aft of the axles. Look for any buckling of the two main frame rails. Maybe lay a long straight edge on the frame rails and make sure they are straight. The rear of the frame is known to droop on these trailers.

You have probably read how folks have strengthened the frame aft of the axles, and replaced any rusted out cross members. Now is the time to insure your trailer has "good bones".

You might as well have more caffeine and drop the aluminum belly pan under the frame. This will give you full access to the frame for solid repairs. You can jack the thing up on jackstands so you can work underneath it.

You ought to clean and paint the frame after you are satisfied that it is repaired. You will find the plywood subfloor came out a whole lot easier than it will going back in. Use good wood and seal it from moisture, especially at the perimeter.

Might as well add new waste water tanks while your under there. And add good insulation.

Re-attached the shell to the frame and subfloor and walaa, you have an aluminum tent ready to go. You can build all the comforts of home later.

You have read Airstream renovations are called the "slippery slope" to financial ruin. You will be in the same poor house as the rest of us. At least you can live in the trailer when done if you loose everything else.

David
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:09 AM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
Ringwood , U.K.
Join Date: Apr 2016
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Thanks David, yes we expect the project to break the budget but when the silver Sausage rolled onto the driveway it was just too fabulous to see and all hope was lost lost finnacially speaking!

It's was anniversary impulse thing for me and the Current Mrs J, 10 years married which I'm told is tin and 25 years together which is silver. I thought it might be cheaper than buying jewellery, so the AS seems the Perfect gift/project. May have miscalculated here!

We've previously done a 1972 VW camper from rusty wreck back to a pristine daily driver so are very excited by the new challenge.

I think we Will pull the belly pan off to properly inspect it making any repairs and paint it up. good advice on how to check the frame much appreciated.
Is there a definitive thread out there on frame stiffening that anyone recommends?

If the frame is not compromised at this stage would people advise to add strength anyway to avoid problems later?

I would assume a new interior will end up being heavier than an original by the time we spec it out as we'd like it?

This looks to be a great forum and a wealth of info.

best
MJ
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Old 04-24-2016, 04:21 AM   #4
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1966 17' Caravel
Newport , North Carolina
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UK damn you must be rich! Just kidding but welcome to the site anyway! So we only get one picture? Let's not tease the folks here we need more than just one! Actually you should take lots of pictures so when you have a question we have a point of reference also they help when putting the damn thing back together! Have you pulled any of the inner skins yet? Welcome to the site.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:12 AM   #5
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1974 31' Sovereign
Ringwood , U.K.
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I'm working the site out and I thought I had uploaded quite a few, but only one has made it up? We'll work it out eventually.

Not rich unfortunately but amazing what deals you can get on eBay over here. Somebody else took the hit on the shipping back in 2012 then half completed a resto and we were able to pick it up for a song!
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:36 PM   #6
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1972 25' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
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We are in about the same place Airstream wise... I have a 73' tradewind. Doing the same Reno all the info you need is on the site just keep searching and reading looking for the good threads, there are lots. I have so many different book marks on all my devices. Read a bit then go for it, get stuck search and read the solution and keep going. Best of luck.
I assume you know you'll need axles and brakes?
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:53 PM   #7
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1972 27' Overlander
Woodburn , Oregon
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Best of luck with your new project mate 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 I just can't imagine what parts must cost with all the shipping charges your paying ? And we think parts are expensive here in a he states , I feel for ya poor Bloke .
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Old 04-24-2016, 04:27 PM   #8
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1948 16' Wee Wind
1964 26' Overlander
2007 19' Bambi
crossville , Tennessee
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pulling entire floor was a mistake . need to support body off frame now ! lay straight edge across outriggers and frame to check for straight. if riggers have sagged ? they need repair 1rst. then you can address any frame problems .
the frame supports the body , the body supports the frame but the floor is the critacle as holds them together . the floor needs to reach the exterior wall from inside . you will have to split the sheets in center to get in place everywhere except btween the wheel wells . cut slots in lower wall 2.5" wde x 6" high ( will allow you to bolt u channel through floor and outriggers ) you can just pull lower wall for same access .
again the body has to be supported from frame during this process !!! 4 x 6 across frame and screw type support is what I use here ( built my own years ago for less than 20.00 ea.) 2 x 6 by 10' doubled works good , padd top with doubled layer of old carpet . don't pull belly until body is braced . belly keeps body straight on frame . if you 'd repaired as many ccd's as I you would understand clearly , they have no belly and a common problem is sagging outriggers and frame buckles behind axles . I have measured up to1 3/8" of body roll to pass side on 1 of them , have seen several with lessor roll.
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Old 04-24-2016, 05:55 PM   #9
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1974 31' Sovereign
Ringwood , U.K.
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Thanks Monza and Shiny Bullet. Have yet to get into parts and shipping but realise it won't come cheap.

Hi Creston RV. Fortunately we didn't pull the whole floor just 3 sections , tail end, missed one then the one between the wheel wells and then one more.

Have put some strips back in the channel so they dont crush down.

Frame appears to be straight! Hooray!!!!

I'm wondering if there has already been a stiffening job done to it as there seems to be a second skin of plates bolted onto the frame by the axels. Axels also seem in good order. It may be someone looked after it before it crossed to the UK.

I'm going to try and post some pics if I can work out how to get them up onto the site
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:13 PM   #10
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Can't seem to post more than one pic at a time?

Is this a standard frame by the axels or has a strengthened been bolted in?
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:17 PM   #11
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1974 31' Sovereign
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One more pic from under. Looks like two steel plates along the frame? Is that the strengthener?
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:51 PM   #12
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
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That does not look "factory" to me so maybe some one did strengthen the frame, maybe years ago. I hope other owners of 74 model years will offer some better evaluations than me.

Here is a picture of a 69 Globetrotter 21 foot single axle trailer. They all have an axle mounting plate. The open C in the frame channel faces toward the center of the trailer. The cross members fit inside the C and are welded to the channel. On our 3 vintage Airstreams, none have the "boxed" in frame channel like yours has.

David
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:25 AM   #13
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1972 25' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
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Here is a quick test you can do to determine if you need new axles.
(if they are original for sure they need replacement)

Red full article here: http://www.inlandrv.com/articles/dur...xle-92001.html

"A negative torsion arm angle will result in the trailer "bottoming out" when hitting bumps. At this point, there is no cushion left, except a small amount provided by the tires.

Another test is to jack up one side of the trailer. The tire or tires should drop at least 3 inches. If not, then the rubber rods have solidified. When the rods have solidified, the cushioning of the axle becomes nil, which causes the trailer to bottom out, when hitting bumps.

The "bottoming out" condition places very high loads on tires and can cause tire side wall failure. Additionally, shell and frame damage usually occurs, along with rapid "rear end separation," (the frame separating from the shell at rear of the coach). It can also cause many other types of damages, such as to the furniture, bulkheads pushed away from the shell, among other things.

Should it be found that the axle or axles have a negative torsion arm angle, they should be replaced, to protect your trailer. At the same time the brake system and hub and drums should also be replaced, as some parts for the original brakes are "no longer available"."
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:20 PM   #14
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
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Axle life is about 30 years if the trailer isn't sitting stationary for extensive amounts of time, like years. The axles seems to last longer when the trailer is used. I mounted new axles on my 66 Trade Wind. Cost was about $700 each with new bearings and brakes already assembled. I had to drill new mounting holes in the axle plate, but otherwise the job went okay. I seem to work slower than other folks.

David
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