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Old 05-24-2016, 08:47 AM   #1
Ally
 
Traytown , Newfoundland
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Subfloor rot in rear end (bathroom) '68 Overlander - easy to spot-fix?

Hi, everyone.

I'm looking to buy this '68 Overlander but I'm nervous about the floor. There is a leak in the bathroom (owner thinks it's the hot water tank but why would it be wet here? Water pipe? Window?).

If this is the only true problem area (the rest of the floor looks great), is it possible to cut this out and patch the subfloor? Obviously I'd take care of the leaky pipe while I'm down there, too.



You can find the full album of photos here: http://imgur.com/a/BG89m

Kind thanks for you time and advice. I really appreciate it!
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Old 05-24-2016, 09:25 AM   #2
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Poke around all the recesses like under sinks and windows with an ice pick to look for soft punky wood. Actually, if that is the only floor rot you are finding in a 68 you are doing really good. If the floor is not completely rotten you may be able to get off easy with stabilizing the wood with a penetrating epoxy like Rot Doctor. If you do a wood patch I would still use Rot Doctor. They also make an epoxy wood filler.

The bigger question is what is the condition of the frame as far as rust and cancer. Look under the stairs and under any openings in the floor like in the galley and the rear storage compartment. Surface rust is OK and expected. If the trailer has been in a damp area, especially exposed to salt air and road salt are 2 red flags.

This is not to say the trailer is not worth fixing. Take the figure you have in your head about how much time and mopey it will cost to get it road worthy and triple it. And, you will need new axles.
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Old 05-24-2016, 11:36 AM   #3
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Lumatic. Oh man. Thank-you so much for your advice. You're amazing.

So, the trailer has been parked about 300 feet from saltwater for 1 year. Otherwise it has been stored each winter in a garage in Quebec. The stairs have completely rusted off. I was not on my game the day we looked at it and didn't think to look at the floor there at the door (duh). The frame is definitely coated with surface rust (at least what I can see of it through a couple vents) but I can't imagine it looks good where the rot is... what to say of possible rear end separation. I couldn't see the frame from the rear storage compartment... I wonder how I could get at it from that end.

The seller wants $9000 CDN for it (~$7000 USD). It's in the middle of nowhere, essentially... 3 hours from the capital city of the island of Newfoundland. So, with this floor issue, the cost to swap out axles, tires, replace the furnace and fridge, fix the leak (potentially replace hot water tank)... I'm thinking to offer him $5000-6000 CDN. He's going to lose money no matter what he does, as far as I can tell. I can fix a lot of it here but I'm really hoping to make it to NJ to get some help from my father-in-law on the axles (he's a mechanic with his own shop).

THANK YOU!!!!!!
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Old 05-24-2016, 11:01 PM   #4
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L what to say of possible rear end separation.!
60s Airstream had a more substantial frame than 70s so are less subject to rear end separation. The field test is to stand on the back bumper and bounce up and down. You should see little to no movement of the bumper independent of the body of the coach. The main cause of rear end separation is floor rot in the rear of the coach.

60's Airstreams fetch a bigger price than 70s. Smaller Airstreams fetch a bigger price than larger ones. I think the price is probably on the high side, but not out of the market range. Prices seem to be slowly going up to me. Don't look at a vintage Airstream as an investment. You will be lucky to break even. Unless you are looking forward to the rewards of doing the restoration the best deals are in vintage units where some of the grunge work was already been done for you, but I am guessing there are less Airstreams available in Canada.
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Old 05-25-2016, 06:43 AM   #5
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why do you think it needs axles? If the bearings and tires are ok you can tow it fine and worry about that later.
The leak could be from the vent over the bathroom, typically the vents all over the roof will leak if they have not been sealed in awhile.
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Old 05-25-2016, 10:23 AM   #6
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why do you think it needs axles? If the bearings and tires are ok you can tow it fine and worry about that later.
If the axles are the original torsion arm axles there is a 99.99% chance the internal rubber rods have lost their flexibility. Not sure the axles are torsion arm axles but I believe AS started using them early 60s. I agree a careful tow from point A to point B to begin work is possible.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:20 AM   #7
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I'm assuming the axles need to be replaced because of the rust... esp. the shocks/shock mounts. They are original. Y'all are right tho I could get back to the US on them. The tires looked new but I didn't check for dry rot. Can you sandblast axles and shocks and the like? You know the way you can redo a frame? Probably not. My father-in-law is gonna laugh at me for sure. Haha.

I wouldn't know if they were torsion arm or not. I wish I had a picture!

Thing is I'll probably have to sell the Airstream once I'm done with it (after a year) 'cause we want to buy a house and don't have a lot of money saved for a downpayment. Whatever I can get away with not doing, I'll likely take that route. If I knew I could keep it I'd go all out.

Good to know about the possible overhead vent leak, thanks ALANSD.

Your advice is always helpful, Lumatic!
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:24 AM   #8
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A RV dealer near me had an Overlander, same year and condition. They only want 2500, so 7 grand seems high to me.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:48 AM   #9
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Many of us started with the idea that our "new to us" trailer needed just a bit of patch, clean up and cabinet work. Four years later we are nearing completion of restoration. Having paid almost $7K to buy it and invested about twice that in restoration, we do not expect to recover our investment when we sell it. It has been a fun project though and we look forward to travel adventures in the years ahead. No regrets.
If you really want to keep it a year and then sell it to buy a home, our experience would say "Don't do it!".
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:02 PM   #10
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I'm assuming the axles need to be replaced because of the rust........... Can you sandblast axles and shocks and the like? You know the way you can redo a frame? Probably not. My father-in-law is gonna laugh at me for sure. Haha.

I wouldn't know if they were torsion arm or not. I wish I had a picture!

Thing is I'll probably have to sell the Airstream once I'm done with it (after a year) 'cause we want to buy a house and don't have a lot of money saved for a downpayment. !
The problem with the torsion arm axles is not rust. There are internal rubber rods that do that replace leaf springs. Over time the rubber hardens and the axle will not absorb road shock. (Maybe someone reading this knows for sure when AS replaced leaf spring axles with torsion arm axles). If the axles do not have leaf springs they are torsion arm axles. Sandblasting will not do anything for an axle. It will for the frame in preparation for future rust prevention. From your description you are probably looking at a several year project, maybe even a frame off restoration. One year does not sound realistic. You will probably loose money on your costs if you sell her. You also will have to pay an import duty to bring the AS into the US.
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:15 PM   #11
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You also can look around the rear storage compartment. You can see how much the black tank box has rusted away. And check how rusted the bracket holds it up. You can also see part of the frame from inside the box. Look underneath to see how those 2 side frame parts look.

Look for vinyl separation/bubbles where the interior walls meet the floor especially where the 2 panels meet. We bought our 1968 Globetrotter knowing that it would need a lot of work. Basically most of the floor is good, but NOT along the sides, front and back. So it will be replaced. Ripping out the bathroom is NOT an easy project. Our Airstream not only had the C channel bolts, but was stapled to the floor also. Banging out the staples was not that easy.

This is not something that you will have for a year and sell to break even or a profit. Just too much work and money. Lots of surprises also.

Steve and Deb
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:42 PM   #12
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From the photos you posted it appears the trailer needs to have all major systems repaired or more likely replaced. This means a new furnace, water heater, voltage converter, water pump, refrigerator, AC and tires/axles/brakes. In addition, there is likely floor rot near the door as well as the area you already are aware of. Then there is frame rust and/or damage as others have mentioned. Since it's been stored in a salt atmosphere, chances are light fixtures, switches and other electrical components have corroded and need replacement. Depending on how far you take the restoration, upholstery, drapes and floor covering also may become part of the equation.

Don't count on coming close to breaking even if you plan to sell it soon.
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Old 05-25-2016, 02:33 PM   #13
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The seller wants $9000 CDN for it (~$7000 USD).
We're just finishing up our second Airstream restoration and I've got to say that this puppy is going to need a lot of work and $$$. I wouldn't touch it for more than $3500 USD. I like the center bunks, though. Good luck if you decide to buy it! It'll be a multi-year Project for sure.
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Old 05-25-2016, 04:20 PM   #14
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We have a 69 Overlander with a weak floor at the bathroom sink. I suspect moisture is the culprit in our situation as well. I fixed our water leak already and will be attacking the floor next.

I'm writing about the water leak. I recommend changing any copper to PEX when working on your plumbing. PEX is really easy to work with, easier to fix then copper as well. I started down stream from the pressure regulator and replaced all the copper on the shore power side to the gally in Judy a few hours, this included the main line to the head as well. You can buy push on adapters to go from copper to PEX at the hardware store.

Good luck
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