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Old 01-27-2015, 02:23 PM   #1
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1973 29' Ambassador
Bethany , Oklahoma
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Exclamation Help! Newbie '73 Ambassador 21' sagging rear end

Hello! Just purchased a 29-foot '73 Airstream for $4100 (typo in the title of this thread!). We were hoping to spend 6 hard months and $2-$3,000 fixing it up. However, after we towed it 7 hours from sheridan, AR to Oklahoma City, OK we THEN noticed the rear sags by a few inches (palm-to-face!). Looking underneath, there is some rust on the frame, but no holes/flaking...we have a welder coming tonight to guess what shape the frame is in underneath)...

After gutting/exploring, the front 8 feet of subfloor needs replaced (soft but no visible rot), middle sub floor looks good, but the back bathroom subfloor needs replaced (one small soft spot under sink, but does have some rot around the back edge).

The end-goal: By September 2015, have an Airstream in jackable/liveable condition to live in for 1-2 years. No traveling. It is currently in a driveway 1 block from the place we hope to park it for the next 2 years.

I'll have a million questions in due time. Here's my main question: Can we jack up the sag in the back somehow, replace the subfloor (AH!!), and move on with our lives for the next year or two? OR does this require a major shell-off reno (which we have not the time/money/skill to accomplish)?

Aaron and I are 30-somethings, adventurous, hard workers, but very little experience fixing up things. I read the Millertime epic mini-series and it terrified me...

Last photo is the view through the back hatch over the bumper.
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Old 01-27-2015, 03:30 PM   #2
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If the frame is not broken or rotted through, the sag is likely caused by separation of the shell from the frame. The shell bolts to the frame at the back and the shell actually holds up the end of the frame. once the plywood rots accross the back, there is a gap between the frame and the shell.
Here's my repair story
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f421...rs-109204.html



Good news is, this can be fixed without a shell off! I did it on my trailer as part of a bathroom reno, took about 3 months of saturday afternoons.

Better news is that if you're not towing, you have very little to worry about, the trailer won't fall apart just sitting. It's the forces of traveling that cause problems. I you're just parking it, fix the leaks and the floor and don't worry about the frame until you're ready to travel with it.
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Old 01-27-2015, 03:33 PM   #3
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You'll also likely need a new rear hold down plate - i've got pictures in my reno thread.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:44 PM   #4
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AldeanFan, What a relief to hear! Thanks for the photos of the bathroom renovation, it looks great. Do you mind me asking what you spent to renovate the bathroom, etc? Where should we start with ours? Jack up the back and then start the subfloor? I assume we need to get new sub flooring in before we can re-bolt the shell to the frame?
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:15 PM   #5
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First bounce on the rear bumper and see if the gap between the frame and the shell opens up as you bounce. If it does the hold down plate and floor need attention.
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:29 AM   #6
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I didn't keep track of my costs, some of the materials I had left over from other jobs and I had some friends help out making the cross member and hold down plate. all in I'd guess I was under $500 in materials. The sink is a salad bowl from a kitchen store, the shower pan was painted with Krylon fusion, and the walls/cabinet were made from 1/4 plywood with pine trim.

Don't jack up the back of the trailer, they're not mean to be lifted by the frame, other than at the axle mounting plate. Do a search, there are lots of discussions on the proper way to lift an Airstream. You can put stabilizer jacks under the back of the trailer to keep it from moving when you walk around inside but that's it. When I work under the back of my trailer I jack up under the axle mount and put stands then drop the tongue to get the rear in the air. You'll need to do all this to replace the subfloor anyway.

Start by removing the bumper and all the aluminum under the trailer from the axle back. It's mostly all put together with pop rivets so get some 1/8 drill bits and start drilling! Next, remove the inside aluminum panel accross the back of the trailer. This will let you see exactly what's going on with the frame, rear cross member and the hold down plate.
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Old 01-28-2015, 02:14 PM   #7
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Early 70's rear droop

I have a relative who has a '72 AS and they had a problem with rear end droop early on. It seems some of the trailers from the Calif. factory in the early 70's had insufficient bracing for the rear section. I'm not sure what was done, but I know the rear supports were strengthened with added steel.
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:48 PM   #8
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Welcome to the forums! That is a big project, but a lot of us started out with a diamond in the really rough too. Always remember to have fun working on it, and never give up on your dreams. Some days you might have to take more slow deep breaths than others.....that's OK. We do too.
They should call this place AIR University. I don't think there is hardly a subject that hasn't been covered. There are a lot of smart (and wise) Airstreamers to help you along your way.
We're heading through Bethany this summer on 66, and a brief stopover at SWRC.
Cant wait either. An Airstream and RT66. How cool is that?
Wishing you all the best
Clayton
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