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Old 08-15-2011, 10:49 AM   #1
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1974 27' Overlander
1970 27' Overlander
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"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"....

Well, it's been a long time coming, but the youngest is headed to college and I can finally devote some time to the project I've been planning for over a year.
A little history: We've (wife and I) never owned an RV. We did a couple of tent camp outs and decided to buy a pop-up. After browsing the classifieds and e-bay the Pop-up idea went out the window and I had to have the AS.
Found one in Iowa (my wife's home state) on e-bay. After several calls to the RV dealer about the history of the unit, we started bidding, and eventually won the 1974 rear bath, 27' Overlander in April 2010. There were 2 previous owners and I actually talked to the last owner.
We drove from Houston to Davenport, IA to pick her up and then to Lake Okaboji for a weekend camp out.
Towing with the F-250 Super Duty was a breeze.
Drove nonstop back to Houston and then to our small ranch 100 miles West of Houston where the AS will be housed.
I built a 40'x60' metal building specifically for the AS during the restoration.
She's been sitting there for almost a year and I've done some demo, but nothing major.
This weekend I finally dug in (although it was well over 100 degrees) and started removing the interior and dropping the rear belly pan.
I am going to need some guidance from the members as I move through the laboring process of a complete restoration.
Here are some photos.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:10 AM   #2
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Nice! To think it was right across the Mississippi River from me in Davenport, Ia. I live just South of Rock Island , Illinois. Looks like you will be busy working on it for a while but once it's done you will always know that you did it right. Good Luck! Happy Trails, Ed
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:12 AM   #3
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1974 27' Overlander
1970 27' Overlander
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More photos

More photos.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:13 PM   #4
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1972 29' Ambassador
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Looks about par for the course... better some places, the same in others as far as previous owner neglect...

A quick note here on jacking - blocking points, the vertical steel plate the axles bolt to is the only place on the entire frame built to hold the trailers weight.. I see the stabilizing jacks plus a jack stand.. I used 6x6 landscape timbers stacked in left/right pylons for holding trailer up, and another set of pylons to place the bottle jacks for lift up/down...
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:55 PM   #5
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Nice! Well youve come to the right spot. I see a bit of sub floor damage where the water heater should be, a bit of rust coverd up by spray paint. Yep sounds about right. Are you doing shell off? If so take lots of pictures you will need them for refrence. I just replaced my sub floor with Marine Grade ply, check out my thread. Good Luck!
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Old 08-15-2011, 01:27 PM   #6
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A couple of tips. Make about 3x the pictures of everything you take apart or remove as you think you need. 9 months from now they will be invaluable in figuring out just exactly where things fit. Make a lot of measurements as to where various drains, fixtures and fittings relate to fixed positions on the interior. With new flooring in place it isn't alway easy to know the exact location of a panel or bulkhead. Have lots of baggies and label every little part you take off as this will save you hours of time later.

From your pics it looks like you got a really nice trailer. Have fun!! Also, great building. Much nicer work place than I had in the driveway.
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:30 PM   #7
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1974 27' Overlander
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Originally Posted by 68 TWind View Post
A couple of tips. Make about 3x the pictures of everything you take apart or remove as you think you need. 9 months from now they will be invaluable in figuring out just exactly where things fit. Make a lot of measurements as to where various drains, fixtures and fittings relate to fixed positions on the interior. With new flooring in place it isn't alway easy to know the exact location of a panel or bulkhead. Have lots of baggies and label every little part you take off as this will save you hours of time later.

From your pics it looks like you got a really nice trailer. Have fun!! Also, great building. Much nicer work place than I had in the driveway.
Thanks for the advice.
That's the great thing about digital photography. I've been doing a photo documentation of everything before, during and after.
I know my memory isn't as good as I think it is, was or will be.
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:36 PM   #8
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1974 27' Overlander
1970 27' Overlander
Houston , Texas
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Nice! Well youve come to the right spot. I see a bit of sub floor damage where the water heater should be, a bit of rust coverd up by spray paint. Yep sounds about right. Are you doing shell off? If so take lots of pictures you will need them for refrence. I just replaced my sub floor with Marine Grade ply, check out my thread. Good Luck!
Marzboy,
I plan to do a "shell-off". I am soliciting advice from "mjmarkhams70" who lives in my area. He did a wonderful job on his '70 Overlander and I will need all the advice I can get.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:16 AM   #9
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Marzboy
I plan to do a "shell-off". I am soliciting advice from "mjmarkhams70" who lives in my area. He did a wonderful job on his '70 Overlander and I will need all the advice I can get.
Sweet! Keep posting, it really helps me to re read my favorite resto threads. They mean so much more the further you go. I am just getting around to putting my rig back together. Had lots of setbacks due to some extensive frame damage. Lets just say that I know how to weld now
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:53 AM   #10
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I have seen lots of photos on restoration where the frames look almost rusted away. Is this normal on old Airstreams? Are these frames repairable, or do most people buy a new frame and replace it?

I wonder if frame replacement is inevitable; or if, living in Arizona, our Bambi may avoid this problem like older automobiles that spent most of their life in the southwest desert. Makes one wonder about the old Air Force planes stored at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson.

I wonder why Airstream didn't use metal, coating or protectants on the frames to make them more rust resistant. (I guess that question is rhetorical, since it's probably because of cost.) It just seems that if you are building an American Icon that will be around for a long, long time, you'd use better materials.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:21 AM   #11
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2Rhinos The first tip I can give you is get those wheels back down on the ground before you start pulling out any flooring. You've got a lot of weight hanging from the frame and if you start pulling out floor like that you're likely to buckle the frame. Without the shell and floor attached to the frame it is surprisingly flexible. I've seen sob's that have hung the wheels like that as they were set up on sites and the frame actually bends down creating a permanent twist.
Secondly those "stabilizer jacks" are just that. They are meant to stop the trailer from rocking around, they are not meant to support the weight of the trailer.
what I see in those pics seems dangerous and you could end up getiing hurt if it collapses.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:29 AM   #12
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Phoenix yes the frames are repairable or total rebuilds are done depending on the level of the damage. Some times the restorer wishes to beef up the frame, add water tanks etc so a new frame is built.

Yes trailers that have spent their entire life in dry climates are much less likely to need frames replacements.

Well gee frames that last forty or fifty years seems pretty good to me. Ask yourself how many sob's are still out there after that time before you berate Airstream for it's build process.You're right they are running abusiness and cost is a factor. They have tried different things over the years, found what works and what doesn't and made changes to their construction processes.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:19 AM   #13
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2Rhinos The first tip I can give you is get those wheels back down on the ground before you start pulling out any flooring. You've got a lot of weight hanging from the frame and if you start pulling out floor like that you're likely to buckle the frame. Without the shell and floor attached to the frame it is surprisingly flexible. I've seen sob's that have hung the wheels like that as they were set up on sites and the frame actually bends down creating a permanent twist.
Secondly those "stabilizer jacks" are just that. They are meant to stop the trailer from rocking around, they are not meant to support the weight of the trailer.
what I see in those pics seems dangerous and you could end up getiing hurt if it collapses.
Wasagachris,
I plan to get blocks under it this weekend.
The stabilizers are extended all the way out, but not touching the ground. I just cranked them out as a precautionary measure.
Have not removed any flooring yet, just interior wall, appliances, cabinets etc.
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Old 08-17-2011, 02:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
I have seen lots of photos on restoration where the frames look almost rusted away. Is this normal on old Airstreams? Are these frames repairable, or do most people buy a new frame and replace it?

I wonder if frame replacement is inevitable; or if, living in Arizona, our Bambi may avoid this problem like older automobiles that spent most of their life in the southwest desert. Makes one wonder about the old Air Force planes stored at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson.

I wonder why Airstream didn't use metal, coating or protectants on the frames to make them more rust resistant. (I guess that question is rhetorical, since it's probably because of cost.) It just seems that if you are building an American Icon that will be around for a long, long time, you'd use better materials.
It is so heavily dependent on the location of the trailer, it's incredible. While researching trailers and looking everywhere for the perfect project, we must have looked at 15 or so vintage ones in the Los Angeles area-- not a single one of which did not require some major frame repairs. They were all California models and had lived most of their life somewhere in the area.
OTOH, when we finally found our desired trailer, it was one from Ohio that spent most of its life in a dry climate area in Colorado. So far 1/2 of the frame is completely exposed, and I have done surgical inspections of most of the other key areas, and there is not a single place that will need welding of any kind. So with that being said, I am very impressed with the Airstream production quality for building me a trailer able to survive 52 years of outdoors camping without needing any structural repairs. (other than the floor replacement, which was showing delamination due to the PO, not AS.
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