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Old 10-31-2013, 05:43 PM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Question Almost a new owner

Hello, I've been lucky enough to win and ebay auction for an International 31'. We live in Atlanta, GA and it currently is in Slippery Rock PA. My plan is to have the current owner pull it to a local RV center to confirm lights brakes running gear, tires etc... are all ready for a long drive back to Atlanta. If you are interested and have gone through this before check out the pictures here 1973 Airstream International 31ft Sleeps 4 | eBay

If you can think of anything I might need to take with me. I'm driving a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban with the towing package and a standard trailer hookup.

Other than my check book what should I be prepared for?

I've done the necessary maintenance on my truck.

We can't wait.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:15 PM   #2
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Can you say retro?
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:18 PM   #3
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Can you say retro?
Retro is just vintage-in-training.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:33 PM   #4
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I'd pack the following:
1. Tool kit, including bottle jack/floor jack if you have one
2. Visa or MasterCard
3. Cooler of adult beverages in case need arises along the road
4. sleeping bag/water jug and other "indoor camping gear" unless you plan to stay in motels on way home...

On more serious note, it does look like shell punctured by big dent in rear which may also have ripped off the right-side awning. ANY Holes in outer aluminum shell are like small skin cancer tumors, which can lead to floor damage, dry rot, mildew or mold, etc., and need to be addressed pretty much first thing.. If the trailer isn't water-tight, your project in Atlanta to bring it back to life is going to be a struggle...

Your suburban may also need weight-distributing hitch with spring bars to hold heavy tongue weight of trailer, and you may have to install Prodigy or other brand of "Brake Controller" to actuate trailer brakes.. Those brakes also need a battery in the trailer, so that may be a needed item, even if not the exact right model and size.. That suggests a portable battery charger for keeping that battery up to proper level. Beyond that, maybe some extended towing side mirrors for the Suburban, and a lot of patience, plus your sense of humor, and you should be fine...
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Razinni View Post
Hello, I've been lucky enough to win and ebay auction for an International 31'. We live in Atlanta, GA and it currently is in Slippery Rock PA. My plan is to have the current owner pull it to a local RV center to confirm lights brakes running gear, tires etc... are all ready for a long drive back to Atlanta. If you are interested and have gone through this before check out the pictures here 1973 Airstream International 31ft Sleeps 4 | eBay

If you can think of anything I might need to take with me. I'm driving a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban with the towing package and a standard trailer hookup.

Other than my check book what should I be prepared for?

I've done the necessary maintenance on my truck.

We can't wait.
Ok, here goes. A 1973 rear bath that appears to have been sitting for some time. Airstream rear bath trailers often have "rear frame separation" due to the weigh in the black tank while towing. A lot of information on this on the forum. The AC is the original Armstrong AC. It was a great AC unit in its day, but its 40 years old. The awning is missing I see. The damage to the rear dome although it might not leak as stated will be expensive to repair since new new panels will need to be installed.

Lets talk about the Running Gear, tires, axles, brakes lights. The torsion axles I would bet are original and will need to be replaced. New axles are available and there is a lot of information on the forum concerning axles. When you replace them have them equipped with new hubs and brakes. The tires are more than likely bad. water leaks and floor rot are always possible in these old trailers so check that out.
Water line leaks.

These trailers have copper water lines that freeze and brake usually in out of the way places. Look for repairs using water hose and hose clamps and leaks when you turn the water on.

Don't be discouraged, I bought a 1976 31" Sovereign center bath in 2000 that was in similar condition. Fourteen years later and a lot a money it has been completely rebuilt form the ground up.
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:45 AM   #6
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ok I believe in karma so I'm hoping for the beat but preparing for the worse. I've asked that current owner pull it off the pad to a local rv center. Should be interesting.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:28 AM   #7
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Razinni, Congratulations on your new adventure. Condo has a good list of things to take. If it doesn't come with a Weight distribution hitch and anti-sway, you will need one for the drive back to ATL. Also, you will need the brake controller mentioned. This is a separate piece of equipment installed in your Suburban. Having the factory tow package does not ensure that one is installed. Without one, the brakes on the trailer won't work.

There is a very robust and active Airstream group here in GA. Please consider joining us at one of our campouts/rallys. You will find a bunch of people who love Airstreams and are very willing to help with questions and repairs. You can find us on the web at Southeastern Camping Unit (012) | Moving WBCCI Forward!
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:07 AM   #8
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I've been reading up on the Andersen WD Hitch I can find one on eBay but since it sounds like I'll need a brake controller as well I'm going to look here in Atlanta for a competitive price.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:42 AM   #9
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1977 31' Sovereign
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not sure if I should continue with this thread here or even if its of interest . I'm at a local hitch shop getting a brake controller getting a curt trunnion system pitch.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:08 AM   #10
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Don't stop this thread now, the adventure is just getting started. Recovery trips can be very entertaining to us that have already been there. Start a new thread when you start the repair or restoration process.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:31 AM   #11
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Don't stop this thread now, the adventure is just getting started. Recovery trips can be very entertaining to us that have already been there. Start a new thread when you start the repair or restoration process.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:50 AM   #12
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You're just getting started, so hang in there. You WILL have issues with this trailer as you would with any 40 yo item that sat out in the weather. The biggest concern you have right now is getting it back to GA from PA. As other have mentioned you need the brake controller installed otherwise it will be the tail wagging the dog. You also need a weight distributing hitch if there isnt one included with the trailer. Figure on about 500 new or maybe half that if you can find one used. You need to make sure the weight distributing bars are appropriate for the hitch weight of the trailer. Have the dealer verify that there isnt any gross rusting of the frame that would make the trailer unsafe to tow.

The other big factor is the condition of the tires and brakes and to make sure the hubs are greased up. I can already tell you the axles are shot just from looking at where the top of the hubcaps are in relation to the lower edge of the wheel well. Your concern is just to make it home with the rig in one piece, and even shot axles will do that, though it will pound on the trailer some and may loosen up some rivets. If the tires are dry rotted, then plan on having the dealer replace them. You dont want a blowout on the highway. You should have one piece steel rims so they should be fine. Pop those nice hub caps off and keep them inside the trailer or tow vehicle so they dont get lost.

You also want to make sure the lights all work with your tow vehicle. And if you have time, you may want to go ahead and invest in some air springs for the rear axle. I put a set in my truck a couple of weeks ago and it really helped to control the bucking as the whole rig went over railroad tracks and other bumps in the road.

You can check my blog for the progress I've made on my '73 Overlander. Your trailer is very similar except for being 5 feet longer. Focus on getting it home and then you will have the Fall and Winter to go through it and decide what you want to do first. If you think you may want to go camping with it, then be judicious in what types of repairs you take on first since it always takes 2-3x longer to do something than you initially estimate. Good luck, keep us posted.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:36 PM   #13
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1973 31' Sovereign
Manlius , New York
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Great lists posted above and make sure you pack some patience. We bought a 75 Sov. rear bath and did a quick and "dirty" overhaul to get her ready to put on a permanent site, which we did on July 4. Had an awesome summer and turned around and bought a 75 Sov. center bath. That one is as far as the driveway and due for an in depth overhaul so that we can tow her.
Stay excited and curious. Never give up on a leak or yourself while you look and look and look for the source.
Make sure you use the right caulk as well!!!!
Please keep on posting...we hope to do the same as soon as we start on the project trailer in the driveway. Took a few pictures when we picked her up from a farm lot, and we will post them all soon. Congratulations!!!!
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Old 11-02-2013, 07:24 AM   #14
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Ok, yesterday I added a brake controller to my rig and got into quite a discussion with the hitch folks that wanted me to purchase a curt wd system. He also stated that I most likely wouldn't need antisway.

My situation is that I don't have the trailer yet and whatever solution I get most be able to be installed easily on the trailer under less than ideal conditions. My thought at present is to wait till I pick up the trailer in NW PA then once under way make the decision whether a WD is required to complete the trip or not. I don't have money to burn so I'd prefer that I get what I really need and am not stuck getting a WD that I ultimately won't want to keep. Any thoughts as to a WD that I'll be happy with that I could install easily on the trailer?
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