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Old 08-28-2007, 12:07 PM   #1
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1968 26' Overlander
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Red face Our Home Away From Home

Well, we finally did it. We've been looking for about two years for a classic Airstream to fix up to journey around our great country. We're just four months away from retirement and are looking forward to this new adventure.
We found our Airstream by accident. It was sitting in a storage lot next to an RV park where some friends had their SOB parked. Our Airstream turned out to be a 1968 Double bed Overlander and last April, she became ours; however I couldn't start fixing her up until this August as I had other commitments. So far, I have all of the cabin lights working, all of the appliances work, and the plumbing is intact and not leaking. What I discovered was that any replacements or "improvements" done by the PO were the likely spots where there was trouble. It seems the interior wiring is aluminum and the PO used clamp type connectors which, in time, cut the wire and caused a short. My scare light was another challange, but I found the problem was in the switch which needed a good cleaning.
In reading other's experiences in this forum, I found I needed to replace my axels, and last weekend I did so by myself. It wasn't too difficult, since I have a motorcycle lift jack which balanced the axels and lifted them into place with no problem. Like most of you, the rear couple of feet of my bathroom floor needs to be replaced, and that's my next big project. I've looked over Tom's site and read Sequoiacoast's thread about their experiences. It looks to be a big job, but well worth the effort in the end. BTW, as it turns out Sequoiacoast (Tanya) lives nearby and she has been a great help. Her Tradewind is absolutely beautiful and is an inspiration to this newby. Her pictures in her thread don't do justice to seeing the real thing.
Anyway, as I have already started to do, I'll be asking all sorts of questions and ramble on about my experiences as our "baby" is once again brought back to her former glory. I would like to thank all of you in advance for your help and support in this endeavor.
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:15 PM   #2
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Awesome Bob! Your project is going to be some sweaty good fun. I almost envy starting from the beginning, with all the rot and funky discoveries... well maybe I don't envy you too much. But I have see this Overlander in person and it very much looks to be a winner!

And to top it off it doesn't even stink. Lucky.
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:19 PM   #3
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Pictures! We want to see pictures!

Welcome to the forums!
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Old 09-11-2007, 05:49 PM   #4
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Thought I'd bring you up to date on how the project is going. This weekend, I tore out the insides of the Airstream to the rear bulkhead seperating the bathroom. I have removed the bulkhead where the vanity is located and am working on the bulkhead where the tub is located. What a puzzle! It's those out of the way screws that got me. After removing the rear goucho, I found a dead cockroach-- yuk! I also found mouse droppings, but no signs of dead mice or nesting material. The original carpeting was still in good shape under the goucho. It was a light blue shagadelic carpet. Very 60's. I found rot in the floor where the access door from the outside of the trailer accesses the space under the goucho. I also noticed a slight downhill feeling as I walked on the right side of the trailer just behind the axels into the bathroom. This doesn't bode well as I fear the frame is bent. I need to pull the belly pan to check this out because the plywood floor is very sound in this part of the trailer. Lesson learned - close the doors on the overhead bins before removing them after taking out the fasteners. Darn things hurt when they close on your head or hands. As soon as I can, I'll publish pictures, but our son has so screwed up the computer with his junk that I've got to hire someone to clean it up so it'll work properly. This weekend I'll tackle the dreaded bathroom removal.
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:52 PM   #5
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Thanks for the update...go for it! Where are those pictures??

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Old 09-12-2007, 01:18 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forums and congrats on your wonderful airstream! Yes, we want pictures!

You are very lucky to have Tanya as a mentor. She does wonderful work and you are right, pictures just don't do her trailer justice! Hey, if your trailer is moving, why not join the Beverly Beach rally if you can get a spot? You will get to see lots of other trailers and talk to folks and get ideas, and more advice than you could ever use. Even if your trailer can't make it, think about driving up and visiting! Check out the Beverly Beach thread... coming up soon on the 28th 29th of Sept.

Good luck with your project!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 09-13-2007, 01:25 PM   #7
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I'd love to join you all at Beverlly Beach, but I've got the Airstream all torn apart and I'm not really keen on moving it yet. However, I'm looking forward to next year as I'm planning to at least have it back together and in running condition. I'm looking forward to meeting fellow Airstreamers as you all seem like really nice folks. This weekend will tell me just how much work I'll need to do to repair the rear of the trailer. I'm actually looking forward to pulling it apart and fixing her up. I'll give a progress report next week.
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Old 09-26-2007, 07:03 PM   #8
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The bathroom has been removed and I also cut out the rear portion of the plumbing. Talk about spaghetti, I've never seen such loopy plumbing. I also discovered that the fresh water tank was full and the plumbing haden't been drained. What I found was the rear portion of the plywood was rotten for about 18 inches from the rear. It is also rotten where the access doors are for the refer, storage under the goucho and the hot water heater. I haven't removed the holding tank yet, but I've removed the belly pan and exposed the galvanized holding tank pan underneath. From the outside, it looks pretty good in that there are no visible rusted thru portions and the angle iron holding the whole thing up looks solid with no rust. The PO installed drag wheels on either side of the trailer between the curved outer ends of the bumper and the lower portion of the frame that holds the holding tank. When they welded those on, the blown on insulation burned; so I'll take a good look at this area and treat it with Por 15. I bet they did this instead of replacing the axels since the coach now sits 5 inches higher and the possibility of dragging the rear end is remote. I discovered the "smell" that was in my Airstream was the old rubber carpet padding. Since it's all removed, the smell is going away. I also discovered more cockroach carcasses and mouse droppings in the hidden areas. Yuk! When I was removing the interior, I cracked the plastic covers over the wheel wells. Actually, they were so flimsy, they would crack just touching them. I wonder if I should keep them and try to repair them or just remove them. They're kinda funky looking. Well, this weekend is removal of the holding tank and cutting out of the rotten plywood. This is becoming exciting as I can see real progress. By the time I finish, I'll know every inch of my Airstream and how it all works. I am still working on the pictures.
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Old 09-26-2007, 07:28 PM   #9
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You go guy!! That is some awesome progress! My wheel well covers are pretty brittle too- I like the new ones others have had made out of sheet metal. You could then put light weight stuff on them (in the closet) and they probably keep more road dust out than my cracked ones!

Keep it up and you'll make next year's early rallies!
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Old 09-27-2007, 05:54 PM   #10
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Thanks, Tanya. I didn't expect to hear from you as you are at the Beverly Beach Bash. Anyway, I'd like to know what model water heater you changed to. I think it would be a good idea to change out my old Atwood which looks as if it has many years of good use for something newer since I've got the whole bathroom out and it would be easy to install. For that matter, any suggestions from other Airstreamers as to which brand and model you would recommend would be appreciated. The stove, refrigerator, heater and oven are all in good shape. And yes, Tanya, we're looking forward to joining the fun at next year's rallies.
Bob
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Old 10-01-2007, 04:55 PM   #11
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I got a suburban 10 gallon- that you self-light. The elec/propane ones are pretty cool- don't know the cost difference.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:12 PM   #12
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This weekend I pulled the holding tank and hot water heater. The pan under the holding tank was in remarkably good shape with minimal rust. The holding tank was in great shape and still had the factory writing on it designating it as a 1968 septic tank with the price of $38.35 on it. The styrofoam in the outer pan was in good shape too, so everything can be reused. The plywood floor was rotten to about the first cross brace on the frame. After removing the blown on insulation, the rest of the wood looked good; however, I'm going to replace the rear full sheet of plywood. Obviously, I need to mention I removed the belly pan and banana wraps to access the underside of the coach. The frame itself faired pretty well, except for a small area at the rear of the trailer. I'll repair this by welding a new piece on the existing frame. The cross brace (stringer) had no rust at all and was still the black it was painted at the factory. Only the outrigger at the water heater showed signs of surface rust (the floor was rotten in this area as well). I'm currently grinding the bolts off underneath the plywood and around the perimeter so I can get the plywood out that will be be replaced . Most is still intact; so I'll be careful not to chew it up too much so I can use it as a template. Needless to say, my wife said I looked like I'd been working in a coal mine after my day under the trailer. At 60, my joints and muscles are reminding me I ain't as young as I used to be. Next weekend - remove the rotten plywood and replace with new. Stay tuned.
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:02 PM   #13
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That's great Bob! If you can use the ply for a template it will be so much easier- I took mine out in a million chunks so... And to find your tank and box are reusable it fantastic! Those tanks are expensive to replace.

Keep it up, but be kind to yourself!
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Old 10-12-2007, 05:50 PM   #14
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Well, I removed the rear piece of plywood intact from the inside of the trailer. The channel at the base of the outer and inner walls fell out when I removed the flooring. So I took everything into my shop and used the old floor for a template. I used marine plywood for the replacement floor and straightened out and repaired the channel for reintallation. Meanwhile I got a really good look at the rear frame, and it looks pretty good. I have just one small place to repair with angle iron and it should be good as new. I visited Tanya (sequoiacoast) and looked at her tradewind so I would get my repairs correct. It sure helps when you have an example to follow that was done correctly. Now I've got to paint the frame with Por 15 before reinstalling the floor. That'll have to wait a couple of weeks.
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Old 11-14-2007, 12:18 PM   #15
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Since my last post, I've repaired and painted the frame, installed the plywood floor and installed the channel that the outer and inner skin attaches to. During the replacement of the plywood, I also had to replace a section behind each wheel well and under the refrigerator. In doing so, it lifted the outside of the trailer since the old plywood was rotten about a 1/4 inch. When I installed the last 4 feet of floor in the rear of the trailer where the bathroom is, it pulled the outer skin tight and the wrinkles on the side of the trailer behind the wheel wells disappeared. The only problem is, the outer skin does not come down far enough on the plywood to completely cover it. AT the very rear of the trailer, the outer skin just touches the 5/8 inch plywood, while on the sides of the rear of the trailer, this gap gradually diminishes until the plywood is completely covered about 2 feet from the rear. I've looked at the frame behind the wheel wells and there is no sign of buckling; so this is baffeling me. When the old plywood was in place, it was so rotten that the PO had put large screws through the outer skin to attach it to the plywood as the aluminum channel was damaged. The outer skin touched the frame that holds the rear bumper. Now the skin is about 5/8 inch above the frame in the same spot, but everything else looks great. Has this happened to anyone else and does anyone have any suggestions on how to repair this?
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:39 PM   #16
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Well, it's been awhile since I posted our progress. After getting some advice from Andy at Inland Empire, I jacked up the frame in the rear which caused the outer skin to cover the plywood. I also installed additional outriggers between the factory installed ones and the rear of the trailer as suggested by Andy. I made these out of 3 inch 1/8th inch steel angle iron. I then put on the floor covering in the rear bathroom, re-installed the holding tank, outer box to the holding tank, buttoned up the belly pan and banana wraps and rivited the outer skin, banana wraps and frame together. What a difference! I then installed a new Atwood 10 gallon water heater and made a nifty cowling to cover the hole made by the old water heater to fill in around the new one. Now, before re-installing the interior aluminum walls, I tested the trailer lights and found the right tail light wouldn't work. It turned out to be a bad ground; so I made a ground wire, attached it to the tail light and the frame, and it works great. The front marker lights didn't work; so I went underneath the trailer and opened the access panel and found the green wire to the front marker lights was broken. After several tries to make the lights work, I fished a new wire from the front of the trailer in the wall below the front window and connected it to the existing wire within the wall, I then connected the other end to the source below the trailer and voila it worked. Now I have all my running lights working! Of course since this isn't HGTV, I couldn't do all this work in a half hour. It took me several weekends, some in the rain to accomplish these tasks. Now I've got to run the plumbing and gas lines and install the cork floor before putting the bulkheads back in place. I'll keep you posted. Oh yeah, my computer crashed and I had to reinstall my software. As soon as I get the photo software installed, I'll post some pictures.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:00 PM   #17
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And I want another project? Wow- that is a lot of work crossed off the list! I am awaiting the photos... patiently!
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Old 03-07-2008, 04:33 PM   #18
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Tany's gonna give me a bad time for this, but since I am still working until my replacement arrives and I want to use my trailer this season, I decided to have it professionally polished. I know, I know, if you want it done right do it yourself. Anyway, the nice folks at R.V. Restorations in Gold Hill, Oregon had some time open and I took my Overlander up to them. First off, this was my first time pulling the trailer a long distance. Since I replaced my axles (they came with new brakes and everything) and shocks and fixed all the wiring so the lights worked, the trailer pulled perfectly. If you know the roads I had to go on, you could appreciate how much this meant. I first left Eureka, CA and went north to Crescent city on Highway 101. Then I took 199 to Grants Pass, Oregon. From there it was I-5 to Gold Hill. For the most part, Highways 101 and 199 are very narrow and windey in spots; so tracking was a concern to me. I have a Reese Straight Line hitch that came with the trailer which made the journey that much more pleasant. So, I decided, while the trailer was getting all gussied up on the outside, to get ahead of the game and order the cork flooring so it will be here when the trailer gets back. I ordered it on Monday and it arrived yesterday. Auggh, now I want my trailer back, 'cuz I wanna get started installing the floor. The cork is beautiful! I think this is where the fun stuff begins; re-installing the interior and helping my wife decorate the interior in the theme we've chosen. Meanwhile, a buddy of mine, who is a professional painter, and I have fixed the cracks in the plastic bathroom fixtures and we're going to refinish the fixtures this week so they'll be ready to install as soon as the trailer returns. Things are really moving now.
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:02 AM   #19
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Pictures at last

Here are some pictures of the damage at the rear of the Overlander. As you can see, I removed the back portion of the plywood and painted the frame with a rust preventative. The last photo is of me and my wife as we dropped off the trailer at the polishers. If you look carefully you can just see the door of the new water heater I installed. I'll post "after pictures" when I pick up the trailer.
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:10 AM   #20
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Pictures at last (I hope)

Let me try again. I'm new to this.
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