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Old 09-09-2006, 06:49 PM   #57
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Tom,
I don't know if Airstream ever completely addressed the issue. I have a 1975 rear bath Sovereign, it has sag and seperation. The axles are okay, but will need replacing eventually. The biggest problem with it was hidden damage at the main frame attachment point at the front A-frame. A water leak had rotted the floor out under the C-channel and caused the main hold down bolts to fail. I missed this one on the intial inspection. It caused quite a bit of interior mayhem that I attributed to bad balance and axles. I have a 1980 31' Excella, no signs of sag, but the rear floor is rotted out along with some floor and a frame outrigger at the front right side just forward of the door. It was caused by an unrepaired leak. And the axles are toast and will have to be replaced before it gets towed very far. Neither one of my units received the best of care over the years, whether from ingnorance or lack of caring, I don't know but they are still quality units that can and will be rebuilt. Your best bet might be to either plan on the repairs or buy a already repaired unit. Hopefully one that has been repaired by someone that knew what they were doing. I would run down some posts by StingrayL82, he had his 70's Vintage unit completely rebuilt. It was a bit pricey but a whole lot less than a brand new unit. And he was very happy with the end result.

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Old 09-09-2006, 08:39 PM   #58
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We had rearend sag on our 1967 31 foot unit. It is fixed now.

silver 67
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:07 PM   #59
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Tom,

Aaron is right. In my opinion, there are two types of older Airstreams (especially 70s)..... those with rear floor separation issues and those whose issues have been addressed.

It is a real job, even if you know what you're doing (i.e. - done it before).

After hearing what L82Stingray paid for his, I was tempted to leave the pizza business (but then I recounted the hours involved on mine and thought better of it).

I personally would not purchase a used Airstream without drilling out a few rivets and inspecting underneath the bellypan just to see for myself. (Bring some replacement rivets so the seller doesn't get too upset.)

Or....don't pay more than $2-3K and you can afford to put 300+ hours into it!

Good luck!
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:08 PM   #60
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Tom,

To answer your questions:

1) Yes, Airstream increased the depth of their main frame rails from 4" to 5". That solved it once and for all.

2) This is open to some debate, but essentially, any trailer with a 4" frame rail section that is over about 25' in length would be succeptible.

If you want to be sure you're not going to have it, measure the depth of the frame rails of the coach you're looking at. If it's 4", then you need to look further. If it's got the 5" deep frame, you're gold.

The 5" deep frame is about double the stiffness of the 4" frame, and that makes all the difference. It's all about the stiffness.

My '77 has the 4" frame and it exhibits sag and separation. Not badly, but they're there. I looked at a '77 Avion a month or two back, and it had a 6" deep frame. No problems with sag whatsoever. The 6" frame is about 4-5 times stiffer than the 4" job.

Bottom line, if you get a 5" frame you'll have no problems. With a 4" frame, you'll need to be vigilant.

I thought the official switchover was 1985, but several forum members have told me their older coaches had the deeper frame. So, I'm not sure when the change was made or if some were made with a 4" frame and others with a 5".

Just take your tape measure with you when you go to look at them. Measure it where the tongue rails come out from the shell.

Cheers,
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:39 PM   #61
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Thanks Aaron, Beth, Ron and Jim...starting to make some sense.

I read Stingray82 posts and saw he spent about $17,500 for his renovation...did that include the "fix" for the sag/separation? Was there a separate price/bill for the "fix"? IF you could quantilfy the cost to have fixed by an AS repair center (qualified as having done it before?)...you could price that into your offer...as an example on the '78 31' Sovereign Rear Bath I am looking at.

I wonder if anyone has asked AS to document the model and year info re: the switch from 4" to 5" frames. It seems to me as a current "wanabe" that it would seem to make sense to start with the 5" frame and avoid/minimize? the problem completely.

Is the fix a good one that actually solves the problem?...there was some talk of it just taking care of it for awhile?

Thanks again...this is the type of info that is great to have on this site...if I become an owner I owuld enjoy "giving back"...at this point I am only listening and learning...Tom R in Two Harbors...Frost tonight!
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:44 PM   #62
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The most succeptable units are the 70's 31 foot units with the rear bath and the 4 inch frame. The rear bath models have the tanks in the rear. Ones with both gray and black water tanks might be worse, if the owners traveled with alot of liquid in the back. Units that have had alot of travel over rough roads or have spent alot of time by the oceans would also have had their frames weakened. I think the earliest 5 inch frames appeared in the early 80's but were only found on the 34 footers at first.
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:51 AM   #63
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I do not hear much about sag/separation on the '70s 34' models? Is that just because there were not very many...or were there ANY 34' at that date?

It would be nice to verify the actual model year of the AS change from 4" to 5" frames?

Also, what is the cost of the fix of sag/separation and can most dealers do it...or only some experienced ones?

Does the fix LAST...or are the reoccurances?

How many of you have had the fix done on your ASs?

I ask too many questions in one message...I think? Back to bed...Tom R in Two Harbors
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Old 09-10-2006, 04:24 AM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomR
Thanks Aaron, Beth, Ron and Jim...starting to make some sense.

I read Stingray82 posts and saw he spent about $17,500 for his renovation...did that include the "fix" for the sag/separation? Was there a separate price/bill for the "fix"?
I don't recall if his had the rear end issues or not. That price included pretty much a complete tear down and rebuild.
Quote:
IF you could quantilfy the cost to have fixed by an AS repair center (qualified as having done it before?)...you could price that into your offer...as an example on the '78 31' Sovereign Rear Bath I am looking at.
I have heard of prices in the $1500-2000 range. But can't guarantee those numbers. Most of us do our own work.

Quote:
I wonder if anyone has asked AS to document the model and year info re: the switch from 4" to 5" frames. It seems to me as a current "wanabe" that it would seem to make sense to start with the 5" frame and avoid/minimize? the problem completely.
Seriously doubt it is going to happen. They supposedly don't even have proper production numbers, and like many manufacturers have undergone multiple ownership(s), fires, records loss, etc. And every now and again, someone will come up with an odd custom model, contact Airstream with the VIN/Serial number and they can't figure it out. They don't have the records.

Quote:
Is the fix a good one that actually solves the problem?...there was some talk of it just taking care of it for awhile?
It solves the problem, BUT the owner has to take some initiative and take proper care of the trailer; keep the caulking maintained to avoid leaks, keep the running gear balanced, etc. One interesting concept are the Centramatic wheel balancers. A few people on the board are using them, apparently with great sucess. I know there are some fit and clearance issues based on the various years and wheel combinations. We have a sets on the steer axles of a couple of gravel trucks and they greatly decreased the tire wear. I plan on putting a set on my F350 before the year is out.

Quote:
Thanks again...this is the type of info that is great to have on this site...if I become an owner I owuld enjoy "giving back"...at this point I am only listening and learning...Tom R in Two Harbors...Frost tonight!
Where is Two Harbors in relation to say New Brighton? I am going to be up there next weekend for a small bicycle gathering. Might need to pack the warm woolies...my southern blood is getting thin.

Aaron
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:09 AM   #65
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Thanks Aaron...I think I will call the local Anoka (Mpls suburr) AS dealer and just out of curiosity see if they know anything about this. They do not seem much "into" the AS line. If I had a knowledgeable dealer close that I could count on for repairs (and quantify the costs before buying) I might still be interested in the '70s 31'er...as there seems to be a lot of them and the prices are moderate.

On the other hand I will start looking harder at the later...say mid '80s used offerings...may be wiser to pay a little more and avoid this issue.

Thanks for all the info...Tom R

PS...New Brighton is a Northern suburb and is about 160 miles south of Duluth. Temps will be a bit warmer there and they are to warm up a bit here in Two Harbors.

Anoka AS dealer is not too far from New Brighton...a few miles West. I will be in Mpls this week at our Eden Prairie townhouse...may stop at the Anoka dealership and visit the service department rather than the sales department...TMR
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:55 AM   #66
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Tom,
Good luck on your service dept visit. Your best bet will be to check around and try and find one that is Vintage friendly. Typically it will be your old line Airstream dealers or an independant shop. I know that Ace Fodgall RV in Waterloo, IA is vintage friendly. A couple of members here on the board have had work done there. I have been to Anoka before, we were out there at Copper Sales/Unaclad for a sales meeting a couple of years ago. I get thru the MSP area about twice a year. I still have relative in the Waterloo, IA area and MSP is the closest airport that USAirways still flies into.

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Old 09-10-2006, 12:49 PM   #67
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Tom, here's how I did it on my '73. It's a lot of work, but worth it I think. Look toward the end of the thread for the frame work, look in the middle for how I dealt with rear separation issues. The thread is:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...nte-15132.html

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Old 09-10-2006, 01:27 PM   #68
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My 78 center bath unit has 5" main frame rails
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Old 09-10-2006, 07:48 PM   #69
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I couldn't recall the depth of my main rails, so I went out and meausred this afternoon. They're 5" (on a '73).
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:06 PM   #70
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Could that have been as switch from 5" to 6"? I am not home so I can't measure mine for you. But I am pretty sure that the 75 and the 80 I have both have the same sized rails. When I get around to tearing the rear bath(s) out I will document the carnage with pictures so we can all learn from them. FWIW the 80 doesn't appear to have seperation, just rotted wood, and some collateral frame damage.

Aaron
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