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Old 10-24-2006, 08:31 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1982 34' Limited
Chatham , Ontario
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 23
Are we in Trouble???


So here we are - having recently purchsed an as- is 1982 34' Limited for what we thought was a good price - $7,000 Cdn. It was filthy, it smelled, and a lot of the previous owner's belongings were still in it, but we are an enterprising couple, and thought it would be a fun winter project.
So we brought it home, plugged it in, and then the fun began. When the power went out for no apparent reason on day 2 of ownership, frank started investigating and realized that the entire electrical system had been jerry -rigged in some bizarre manner, the panel was not original, contained bare wires and other such horrors, and the 120 to 12 V converter seems to not work at all. Pulling the false bottom out of the hallway closet revealed a wretched display of plumbing nightmares. From there we moved on to the smellly carpet, which we pulled out only to reveal rotting plywood floors. When trying to deterimine the source of the rot, we have discovered leaks in many of the windows, the door, and the lock.

It's a bit overwhelming. Where do we start???

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Old 10-24-2006, 08:34 PM   #2
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1964 26' Overlander
1964 19' Globetrotter
OlyPen , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Welcome. Start with the search tool on the upper blue bar.

Most things are fixable if you are persistant and a little handy - although handy can be learned.

Systems are pretty much the same across all models. Glad you're here - sorry about the crumby circumstances.

1964 Overlander | '08 Touareg V6
Current Project: 1964 Globetrotter

Let's have a polishing party: I'll supply the trailer and buffing supplies. BYOB (bring your own buffer)

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Old 10-24-2006, 08:49 PM   #3
Silver Mist
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1977 31' Sovereign
Riverhead , New York
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 3,008
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There are people here that can give you advise.

Really need to post pic's of the problem areas
'77 Sovereign Intl 31' CB
WBCCI R2 Rep VAC 11411 Metro NY VP

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Old 10-25-2006, 11:06 AM   #4
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1951 21' Flying Cloud
1960 24' Tradewind
West Coast , BC
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,790
Images: 10
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You might want to go to an RV dealer and purchase an RV Service Manual. They give generic instructions on all aspects of a trailer, how to test, and suggestions on how to tackle repairs. Mine is tucked away in my trailer but if you need the title let me know and I can go dig it out. I find it helpful when I run into a problem and I'm trying to sort out what the impact is and what to check. Problems never seem to happen when I'm at home and can check out the forum for advice, they are in a campground and thus I needed a manual that would provide coaching. No problem is insurmountable, you just need to break the problems down into specific projects and follow along in the right order. The important thing is to check everything to make sure it meets your needs and is done safely. With that you will have a trailer you can completely enjoy.

Also, by using the search function on this forum you will find that a large number of us have had to tackle significant repairs with our units and many have been kind enough to post their problems, how they repaired them, and what you should expect to go through.

Keep us posted.
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Old 10-25-2006, 11:23 AM   #5
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St. Catharines , South Western Ontario
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Posts: 2,367
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Good day Neighbour... A 34' for that price is not to bad providing you can get it spruced up to your liking without breaking the bank. Like Lipits said. There is a ton of info at this site.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 10-25-2006, 11:45 AM   #6
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,280
Images: 19
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Sorry about your awakening experience. There will be a lot of jobs to inventory in the coming weeks. Looking rearward, sight along each side of the trailer. Look at the side skin just aft of the wheels. If that skin is rippled compared to the rest of the trailer side, do searches here on rear end separation. Overall -- we could help you better if you post a 400x600 or 600x800 pixel digital photo of any problem you come up with with.

This age unit probably had an old Univolt converter anyway -- renowned for boiling batteries dry if left plugged in. You'd want to replace that anyway -- see for much more modern options -- owner is a regular participant on these Forums.

Also see:

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 10-25-2006, 12:06 PM   #7
a.k.a. Ambassador Tim
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1960 28' Ambassador
Northern , California
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,921
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We talked about this very thing on the Colinless episode.

First thing I would do is try to fix any leaks in the shell. Windows, door seals, vent gaskets, etc...

Then you can just start taking an inventory of the problems and try to tackle on problem at a time.

Posting your questions and photos here helps tremendously!
1960 International Ambassador 28'
2001 Silverado 2500HD CC 6.0L 4.10
Check out my book: Restoring a Dream
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Old 10-25-2006, 12:50 PM   #8
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1982 31' Limited
1953 25' Cruiser
Hamilton , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 563
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Welcome to the Forums. We own a 1982 Limited 31'. While yours will differ slightly in that it is three feet longer and has a third axle, for the most part they will be the same. Same cabinets, same electrical systems, etc. Ours is in pristine condition and I will be able to help you with what "should be." The first thing I'd do is go to an Airstream dealership and purchase some Vulkeem and Sika Flex sealers or whatever they recommend. Airstreams require special sealants that flex as the aluminum contracts and expands. DO NOT use polyurethane. Seal along the awning rails. Most of our leaks have been along those rails. Then seal along the tops and down the sides of each window and along body moldings. Then look at the vents as recommended above. You have to stop the water from entering before doing anything else. This is something I do every year. It is part of maintenance.

You might also want to ask advice while you're at the dealer and depending upon how handy you are, you might want to consider getting your dealer to repair the electrical and possibly the plumbing for you rather than try to tackle this job yourself.

Like a previous poster said, depending upon what all you find to be wrong, it appears that you still have made a pretty good deal for this unit. You should be able to afford some updates without exceeding the value it would likely bring.

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Old 10-25-2006, 01:49 PM   #9
Mom scared by aluminum
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Currently Looking...
Phoenix , Arizona
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Posts: 167
Hey forget about the wiring and plumbing and rot. The main thing is,



As everyone said, you will find a wealth of experience here. There are many folks (me included) who are taking them down to the bone, but hopefully you won't have to do that. Also check out for a great podcast covering all kinds of issues.
Dave and Joanne
1963 Flying Cloud
2005 Silverado 4x4 3/4 Ton
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:11 PM   #10
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1973 27' Overlander
1972 29' Ambassador
St. Paul , Minnesota
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As one who has $8000 in a trailer worth $4000 at the moment I welcome you to my world... First my condolences, second, my congratulations on tackling a worthy endeavor!! Here is a bit of light reading on my folly...

Pour water down every drain to ensure nothing from pipes wafts back into unit; this is something that should be done every few days as wind and the vibrations from walking can & will siphon it down untill you can get odors backing up. Lysol helps. Inspect toilet thouroughly, mine had a stress crack at the wrong spot that amplified that 'DANGER WILL ROBINSON' olfactory sensory feedback that kept me 100' foot from trailer for a month...

Do not let a day go by without doing something - scrubbing a patch of ceiling, washing the undersides of shelves, discovering the oddities that build character >>koff<<...
The days are short and the night is long and the stars go tumbling by.. . ~Airstream~
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:54 PM   #11
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1976 31' Sovereign
Always searching for a place w/low Humidity , FT RVing, N & S, E & W, & in between
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 271
Persistance wins in the end!

It can be a "DAUNTING" challange when you consider ALL that is wrong and needs repair/replacement!! But....when you bite off small portions at a time and fix them with a smile, gusto and determination, then you will have a since of accomplishment, pride and progress. I know, I've "been there, done that"......and still doing that!! So, make the list, keep it handy for additions that you will surely discover, and dive in!!! Good luck, Bill
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:35 PM   #12
4 Rivet Member
2019 22' Sport
High River , Alberta
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 445

Can Am RV has a selection of Airstream Service Manuals available. You'll be making the hour's drive at some point, to be sure. You'll get to know the parts guy well.

I've learned that these trailers have their "personalities". You'll get to know your's well. The challenge will be to get it cleaned up and usable. Hopefully, with updates to the electrical and plumbing systems, some floor repairs, new flooring, and a very thorough cleaning (my wife likes Spray 9), you will have it on the road. The cosmetic stuff comes later.

My philosophy: We bought ourselves a hobby. I'm just pleased that everything's basically intact and all the systems work fine. We also really enjoyed our first outing with it this fall.
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Old 10-26-2006, 09:06 PM   #13
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1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,422
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Originally Posted by GStephens
purchase some Vulkeem and Sika Flex sealers or whatever they recommend. Airstreams require special sealants that flex as the aluminum contracts and expands. DO NOT use polyurethane.
I believe Vulkem and Sikaflex are polyurethane. Did you mean to say don't use silicone?
Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Mame Dennis
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Old 10-27-2006, 03:49 PM   #14
4 Rivet Member
2019 22' Sport
High River , Alberta
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 445
Vulkem is polyurethane

Yes, Vulkem is polyurethane. It seems that silicone should not be used on aluminum.

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