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Old 09-18-2011, 12:36 AM   #1
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Oh Boy - Here We Go...

Firstly, hello everyone from the Great White (well, soon will be) North...

Secondly, I need help!!

The background:

A month or so ago we bought ourselves a 1968 Airstream Sovereign 30 which for various reasons (wife) got named "Long Distance Clara" (google "pigeon street").
When I looked at her I thought that she was mostly OK, hopped up and down on the bumper and didn't notice any real movement of the bumper relative to the shell, so thought it was good. Noticed what looked like the odd soft spot, but nothing that looked serious so I figured it wouldn't be too hard to repair the broken window etc.

We managed to go off for a couple of weekends and there we started finding more issues - like when you hit a gravel road it fills up with dust....
The door has sunk a little on its hinge so it does't seal properly when it closes.
I'm getting the feeling I'll be rebuilding all the cabinets since the kitchen worktop is water damaged (leaking window/the PO broke it then left it as a hole to use a window a/c) and the sofa/beds in the front need fixing/rebuilding.
The fridge also fell over to about 45 degrees in transit..
Finally, after the first time we plugged it into the 120v power the (new) battery leaked acid and melted a hole in itself by the negative terminal (I think there are more urgent issues than this though).


Further investigation shows that the floor in the back end is shot/rotten for the last foot or so, and has sunk so that there's an inch gap between it and the bottom of the bathroom wall. There are a couple of other rot patches too. On their own I'd patch them but now I'm thinking that the smart option would be to do the whole thing and make sure the frame etc. is all good or fix it so it is..

I've also noticed that if you stand on the bumper it won't go down much relative to the shell, but it does move (maybe 3/16") and you can lift it by the same.


The questions:

If these are answered elsewhere I apologise, I have tried to find the right information on here, but there's just so much it's a little overwhelming..

Does it sound like I have problems with the frame bending, or is that 3/16" likely to be because the floor has rotted out from between the bottom of the shell and the frame, or is it that there's just a channel that the floor slots into and the shell sits directly on the frame (from what I've read I'm not exactly sure).
If the separation is a separate issue how exactly is this fixed? Please bear with me as I'm trying to find out what I'm into before I start tearing her apart..

Also, how exactly does one get the bathroom out? I can figure out disconnecting the plumbing, but there seems to be a distinct lack of obvious screws etc holding the bathroom furniture in, and I don't want to just pull...


Thanks in advance,
Rob.
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Old 09-18-2011, 08:06 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums.

You certainly have gotten yourselves a project there. The bathroom was the first thing installed in the trailer, so it will be the last thing to come out when you take things apart. You can get the bathroom out by itself, but it's a major project even by itself. The dust inside is from the lack of a floor, and the 3/16" up and down movement at the bumper is from not having the floor. It is also called rear end separation. The forums' search function works better with single word searches, a search of "separation" will likely find you more threads and posts than you can read in a year.
The broken window is a tempered glass made by Corning Glass. There are currently no good options for replacing them other than getting a glass from an Airstream dealer or a used one from a salvage yard.
Before doing a whole lot, the best thing would be to seal up all the roof vents, broken windows and gaskets, fridge vent, etc, to keep things from getting worse.
Good luck.
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Old 09-18-2011, 08:36 AM   #3
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I took the bathroom out of a 68, but I had to start at the door and remove everything back to the bathroom. It's built so that everything overlaps back to the tub and to get the tub out you need everything out of the way to the door.
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L.D.Clara View Post
Firstly, hello everyone from the Great White (well, soon will be) North...


The questions:

If these are answered elsewhere I apologise, I have tried to find the right information on here, but there's just so much it's a little overwhelming..

Thanks in advance,
Rob.
Welcome Rob

Your at the right place, I would do a full restoration, drop belly pan, left shell off and go at it, $15,000 to $20,000 and 3 years you should be ready to go. Consider the Airstream Forum as your book, read, read and never stop reading, and as your knowledge increases you will know exactly what you want to do. There are many professional on the forum that do this for a living, electrical, plumbing, metal work, frame work, full service, just goes on and on, that give free advice.

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Old 09-18-2011, 09:28 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, very helpful indeed.

I thought I'd read that everything has to come out to get the bathroom out, but your info confirms it - not too big a problem, because I'm the kind of person couldn't fix just part after seeing the back is that bad. I'd just have to do the whole floor so that I know it's all new and I can also do anything I need to to the frame or I wouldn't be able to sleep. I guess everything was coming out from the moment I saw the rot..

I'm relieved to hear it's just the floor missing that's causing the movement at the bumper too. I've done quite a bit of searching, but it's helpful to know exactly what terms to search for..

I have the leak problem/window in hand as I have a new window and an epic quantity of window gasket on order from inland rv - the broken one has also been temporarily replaced with thin plexiglass and sealed with construction tape while I wait for parts... The gasket in all the windows is hard and brittle which won't be helping..

Also going to have to see if I can sort out the bits where someone went nuts with the silicone. Silicone is like the force - it can be used for good or evil...

Some of the vent covers have some holes, which I'm thinking I'll fix with glassfibre and epoxy as I have some left over from a cedar strip canoe - which incidentally fits in through the front window of the airstream!

Thanks again for the replies,
Rob.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:50 PM   #6
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We're making progress...

So it's been a while, but there is progress being made.. People on here have been really helpful so I thought I'd post an update in case it's of interest..

Clara is now empty, it took a good while to get all the internal furniture out. It was a bit of a nightmare actually; as usual with older furniture, it's the glue that fails, so quite a bit of it fell apart as it came out, so I'm now left with an interesting jigsaw.

I'm sure that won't be too much of a problem, I was going to have to replace most of the plywood in the furniture anyway. Some had gotten wet at floor level, a lot of the other stuff had had things attached and removed many times leaving enough holes that it looked like a woodworm victim. I've found some ribbon veneer mahogany plywood that looks really nice. I think from initial investigation the hardwood parts are actually mahogany that's been lacquered/stained darker to look like mahogany. I may be wrong on this, but I think after I've stripped it the two should be fairly similar in colour..

After getting the furniture out I removed the lower inner skins and found that the outer skin had become detached from the U channel, so I had to re-rivet the thing back together. I figured that it'd be a good idea to get this sorted before I separated the shell from the floor.. I've now got the belly skin mostly off and there's good news and bad news. The good is that the frame as far as I have seen looks good, the bad is that at some point (I suspect two owners back as the guy was living in it) the floor has been insulated with spray foam so I can't see what the frames are like in there. Interestingly not it doesn't seem to have turned to powder, maybe she hasn't done too many miles since though.. I'm hoping that the frames won't be too bad in the foam because it shouldn't have held the water like fibreglass insulation would. We will see..

This weekend I'm going to finish removing the belly skins and start picking up the floor and getting that foam out.. I'm hoping I can get the frame cleaned and painted while it's warm enough to do so...
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:53 PM   #7
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Howdy

I am in a similar situation with my 1980 Caravelle. I hope Toasties estimate is very conservative. I don't think I can make it that long or spend that much. Although I just spent $400 on chemicals alone - POR15 and epoxy for the floor.

I am trying to get my shell loose today but I am stuck on wheel wells and something in the front. Never underestimate the power of one rivet in a shear load.

Good luck!
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:14 PM   #8
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Never underestimate the power of one rivet in a shear load
Never underestimate the drilled out hollow shaft of a rivet if/when the drill goes a little off center from corrosion... Buckled the rear C-Channel by stepping on the lifted floor piece when I walked back to see what was binding.... <d'oh!>
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Wabbiteer

Never underestimate the drilled out hollow shaft of a rivet if/when the drill goes a little off center from corrosion... Buckled the rear C-Channel by stepping on the lifted floor piece when I walked back to see what was binding.... <d'oh!>
I thought I had all of my rivets out on an interior ceiling piece only to have committed and then realize one was left. I was holding it up with the drill out of reach. If i let go it would buckle. Lucky for me I could reach my cell phone. My wife came and saved the day.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:05 AM   #10
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L.D. Clara post some pics! Give us a peak...
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:37 AM   #11
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I'll try to round up some pictures after work. most of the ones I've taken so far have been as a record of how things go back together, and are not very interesting so I'll have to see if there are any interesting ones..


I have to echo the rivet frustrations. Those Airstream stealth rivets just about drove me to drink...
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:41 PM   #12
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So here come the photos..

Here are the photos I have - no doubt more will follow, particularly as I start rebuilding...

When we went to get her:


It was a little bit of a nervous trip home without a weight distributing hitch - kind of felt a little bouncy over large hollows in the road but otherwise towed very well. Big trucks passed us without it swaying at all. Very impressed indeed.

Some before pictures..

Oh yes, apparently you can get a 16' Chestnut Prospector cedar strip canoe through that front window - go on, ask me how I know...





Then after most of it had been removed..


And then the corner of our basement.. Uhh I think you can see what happened here....
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:31 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by L.D.Clara View Post
Here are the photos I have - ...
And then the corner of our basement.. Uhh I think you can see what happened here....
My garage looks similar...except somewhere under my pile lies an MG Midget.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:31 AM   #14
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Wow that brings me waaaaay back. Looking forward to more!
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