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Old 01-26-2013, 02:33 PM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
Southern Pines , North Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 13
Lightbulb Total Newbie - how much restoration ?

I'm a complete newbie so bear with me on these questions. I have read a lot about replacing the floor, shell off vs. shell on restoration. I however haven't found much about why you would want to do a shell-off vs. a shell on. I have no leaks, no rot on the plywood subfloor. The original flooring is gone. Is there any reason we should consider a shell off restoration other than being self-proclaimed DIY masochists. We want to get the job done right the first time. I certainly don't want to redo the floor and everything else and then find I should have taken the shell off and fixed something we missed.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:04 PM   #2
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1988 32' Excella
Robbinsville , New Jersey
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Since you say you have no subfloor rot the only reason left is bad frame rust or frame damage. This is most likely near axle mounting, on or near the tongue and near the back bumper.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:07 PM   #3
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1957 26' Overlander
1989 35' Land Yacht
Oakdale , California
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What year and model?
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:15 AM   #4
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1971 31' Sovereign
Southern Pines , North Carolina
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1971 Sovereign. We bought it in New Mexico so the rust damage is really minimal. The shell is in great condition.
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:30 AM   #5
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1973 27' Overlander
Portsmouth , Virginia
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What are your plans for the trailer? Do you want to put it to use this spring or do you want to have something that will be the envy of all who see it? If you are absolutely sure that there are no leaks and you are happy with the interior condition, then leave it be and get some use out of it. Problems will show up as you get acquainted with it and then you will have a better idea of what your want to do. If you have lots of time and money and don't mind it being laid up for a while, then tear into it and make it all your own. Decision is yours.

But I would advise you as a minimum, to get underneath it and take a good look at the condition of the frame which will mean pulling off the belly pan and doing a visual inspection if you haven't already done that. Also, those axles are over 40 years old and unless they have been replaced, they are probably well past their lifespan. Condition of the appliances factors in too. All original and you maybe looking at some replacements down the road. Too many variables to give you a better answer unless you can give us all more background. Pix would help, everybody loves pix.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
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I wouldn't take a shell off unless I had to for structural reasons.

We did some selective subfloor replacement in places where it had definitely rotted - in the bathroom and by the front door. Then we coated the whole subfloor with penetrating epoxy, regular epoxy and a durable aluthane paint which added silver color to the interior. We also replaced the axles. Then we started camping.

If we had started with renovations, we wouldn't have been as wise about them as we have been after using the trailer in a variety of situations. At every stage, we've still been able to take full advantage of camping season, although sometimes without a bathroom and/or fridge. All remodeling happens between October and March. That's when we take the "needs improvement" notes from the previous camping season and put them into effect.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:25 PM   #7
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2008 16' Safari
Destrehan , Louisiana
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You have a good floor, good shell and a good frame. No need to pull the shell off.
Be sure to check the floors near any windows. Look under or inside all storage spots. I'm sure you will find a little rot somewhere. Small bad spots can easily be repaired without ripping up the whole floor or pulling the shell.
How much of the interior do you plan on keeping? If you just want everything back in place and working, you can start right where you are. If you want to do a total interior renovation then you can start pulling everything out.
It's a lot easier to get the basics done with the trailer stripped out, but not necessary. I'd start with the bath area. This is the one place you are most likely to find rot and bad flooring.
Test every tank in the trailer with fresh water. Many of the old tanks get cracks and need to be replaced or repaired. Check the wood under the fresh water tank, it often rots out. It's easy to replace and you can use treated wood to avoided rot in the future. Once you get the fresh water, black water and grey water systems (that includes the toilet and shower) all up and running you can move on. If your going to replace the old piping with the new PEX system, now is the time to do it.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:20 PM   #8
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1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlb435 View Post
Once you get the fresh water, black water and grey water systems (that includes the toilet and shower) all up and running you can move on.
It's a 1971, so it won't have a gray water system unless someone has added one along the way. Our "gray water system" is a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot that we carry to the nearest drain or toilet.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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1976 27' Overlander
Tampa , Florida
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I second aquinob... get some of the banana skins/ belly skins off and poke around. If nothing more, than to pull out the old pink insulation. There's definitely no sense in lifting the shell and tearing it apart for no reason. (unless of course you just want to make it a "new" airstream for a fraction of the cost of what they cost.

I am a perfect example of a noob, who bought a '76 Airstream that looked like it just need to be cleaned up and "ready to go". I am now completely gutted, and about to lift the shell.

I can say, I am a glutton for projects... I've had this thing since October and its done nothing but cost me time and money so far.... just sitting in the driveway. I know it will be awesome when I'm done and well worth the journey, but thats a ways away now.

If you've got a good working trailer that doesn't leak, tows fine... GO CAMPING! Put some throw rugs down over your bare floor and enjoy it for a while. You'll be able to figure out what it needs, and what you want from there.

Have fun!
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