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Old 08-25-2008, 02:44 PM   #1
Airstreamer since 1958
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1973 31' Sovereign
Greencastle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 34
Smile Back in the tin can again

I grew up with my summers in an Airstream. Our first big trip was cross country in 1959. They are a huge part of my family's history.

If everything works right, my avatar should pop up, from that trip. It was taken on the steps of the trailer while parked near San Francisco.

Dad sold his last one on their lot in Traveler's Rest, Dade City, Florida about 1996. He passed away in 2001, Mom left us in 2004 and we've all missed the sounds and smells of an Airstream. She and I were very close and in her later years would often sit and remember our trips together with such delight. Unfortunately most of my siblings weren't interested in owning one and I wasn't in a position to travel much.

Recently my wife and I purchased an older (1946) home and are in the process of rebuilding it. We decided to pick up an RV and move onto the property this summer to cut the cost of paying property taxes twice. Along the road one day I spied a 1973 Sovereign, in reasonable condition and at a fair price. It was too good a deal to pass up. The owner was kind enough to tow it to our spot at no additional cost. She's now set up and almost ready for business.

In preping the unit I discovered the water pump appears to be missing (how did I overlook THAT when I bought it?), but where the hoses come out of the floor (under the oven) does't seem to have much space for a pump. So I'll be digging through the forums here to figure out where/how to place a new pump.

Remarkably, the floor seems to be solid throughout the unit. I haven't taken up the carpet to look too close and don't intend to for several years. The whole unit is lived in, but totally original (except for the furnace) right down to the avacado green carpet, covered up with orange shag carpeting. I knew it had been lived in by Airstreamers, there were remnants of all the things Mom would have had in her kitchen still there.

We have no plans to "restore" it at this point. It's a life boat to get us through the building of the "stay in one place house." From there we'll see. It's so huge and heavy, and would probably need tires, brakes, bearings repacked, etc. I don't think we'll take it on the road. But it's sure a slice of our history in our backyard.

We've got lots of space and as soon as I can arrange some hookups, we'll open a "stopin' spot" for anyone travelling through. If we can't take ours on the road, we can still visit with others who are!


Doug Dobbs
Greencastle, PA
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:34 PM   #2
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1967 22' Safari
1960 Caravel
Edmonds , Washington
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Doug, welcome! Thank you so much for sharing your 1959 trip! The pictures are wonderful.

You could certainly do a lot worse than living in an Airstream while rebuilding your home. Hope you enjoy it and maybe one day you'll take the Sovereign back on the road.

Good luck to you!

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Old 08-25-2008, 05:23 PM   #3
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1986 31' Sovereign
Kent , Ohio
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Thanks for sharing your page. I really like the comments "woman wearing slacks in church" ect. love that
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:33 PM   #4
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2008 27' International FB
1964 19' Globetrotter
1955 26' Cruiser Overlander
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Way cool!!

Welcome to the forums!!

The pics and documentation (daily diary entries) are way TOOL COOL for words.

You have a little timecapsule that you shared. Thank you very much for sharing it.

Looks like you grew up in a very nice loving family.
Kevin & Prim Li
Bandit the Siberian Husky (RIP) & "G" the Min-Pin (RIP)
Cosmo the Custom 2008 27FB Intl CCD
Maxwell the 1964 Globe Trotter
Name TBD the 1955 Overlander
WBCCI # 6155
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2nd love - 2006 28' Safari LS
1st love - 2004 19' CCD Bambi
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Old 08-28-2008, 06:35 AM   #5
Airstreamer since 1958
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1973 31' Sovereign
Greencastle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 34
I went looking for trouble and found some!

Thanks all for the warm welcome. It is nice to hear you've enjoyed the 1959 pix and commentary. Mom's 95th birthday would have been Aug. 19th so I've been thinking about her a lot this last week or so. She left us in 2004 and I still catch myself thinking, "I should call Mom, she'd love to hear about this." Alas, that will have to wait a while.

I did the unthinkable yesterday. I went looking for trouble. I poked around the back of the trailer to look at the condition of the floor and lo, and behold!, there is a bit of rot there. Only two small spots are really deteriorated though, so as long as I can seal the outside better, the inside is not worth a major rebuild. It'll certainly get me through the winter if I can keep it dry.

The axles are indeed "sagged" and will need to be replaced at some point, but for now they'll do.

I spent some time poking around looking at the water piping. There's a lot of valves I'm not sure where they go or what they control, but think I can figure it out. In addition to growing up in Airstreams, I built a school bus into a motorhome in 1979 so this all looks really familiar.

I appreciate all the kind words and good wishes. Off to go find a good way to seal that back seam...
Doug Dobbs
Greencastle, PA
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Old 08-28-2008, 06:45 AM   #6
Gypsygirl1 and Hubby
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1959 24' Tradewind
Windsor , Ontario
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Very cool ! ! Thanks so much for sharing ! !
Gypsygirl1 and Hubby
1959 A/S Tradewind Landyacht 24ft (the traveller)
1952 Royal Spartanette 35ft (summer home)
1954 Pacemaker 32 ft (summer guesthouse)
Tin Can Tourists Vintage Trailer Club
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:40 AM   #7
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2016 20' Flying Cloud
Centennial , Colorado
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Doug...thanks for sharing your "time capsule" with all of us! Your family sounds like a close one and I am sorry that your parents are no longer here.

You have had some really cool experiences and I thank you again for sharing! Good luck with the Sovereign!!
Steve "Centennial Man"
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:49 AM   #8
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Tipton , Iowa
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Doug, your 1973 Sovereign would have come with a Par diaphragm water pump as standard equipment. Having rebuilt one a couple of times, I can't say I was sad to see them replaced by more modern pumps. You only need a pump if you're going "on the road" and use water from your fresh water tank. If you're just going to hook up to plumbing and use the trailer "static" as an apartment, I wouldn't even bother messing with it. You have more pressing issues right now.

Even though your Sovereign has a residential water pressure regulator in the rear "trunk", you'd do well, if you're using an RV hose, to pick up a brass pressure regulator that fits on the faucet before the hose. That will keep the hose from exploding one afternoon when you're not looking. If you're hard-plumbing the trailer in with PVC, that's not necessary.

Good luck, and thanks for a great story!

AIR 2053 Current: 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis, & 1995 Coachmen B-van
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:16 AM   #9
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Kiln , Mississippi
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Great to have you here to share your travel stories and Airstream adventures (old and new). Thank You for some great reading.

Michael & Tina with Layla and Preston BZ
The family has grown.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:39 AM   #10
Airstreamer since 1958
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1973 31' Sovereign
Greencastle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 34

I would dispense with the water pump in a heartbeat except that our house water supply will be interrupted for indeterminate periods of time and we need to be self sufficient. The house right now pulls off a shallow well that tends to run dry, so we're going to have to have another drilled. And then there's the issue of what sort of filtration/purification we'll need on the house, etc. So an onboard A/S water pump is a necessity for the near future.

But I LIKE the idea of a pressure reducer before the hose into the trailer once we do hook up. Good thinkin'.

Thanks to all for the kind words.
Doug Dobbs
Greencastle, PA
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Old 08-29-2008, 01:13 PM   #11
Airstreamer since 1958
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1973 31' Sovereign
Greencastle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 34
Pic worth a thousand words.

Well, here's the space where the water pump used to go.

I discovered a new leak (of course) last night. The water fill port on the outside is not connected to the water tank. The rain runs down the side of the trailer, behind the flap and into the trailer. Looks like it's done some damage but not terminal. If I can't open that flap, I'll get some sealant on it and make sure the leak stops. Never a dull moment.

I've also found the key to the water fill door, but it doesn't go into the lock. It's as though something inside was preventing entry. I've come to the conclusion that this was intentional on someone's part. They wanted to close off access to that port. The fill pipe is disconnected on the inside, the elbow that was in that line is gone. I'm suspicious that this won't be an easy deal...

Busted water tank?

So my prime question right now from this pic is this: If I do replace the water pump, where would it go? There doesn't seem to be any room for it.

Checked the back floor after yesterday's rain and it's dry back there. I doubt it would remain so if we got driving rain from that angle, but we at least survived this storm...

I like the solution of putting some sort of "L" shaped aluminum panel back there and directing the water away from the floor edge. Sure is a strange design! I'm no engineer, but even I'd spot that as a design problem, I think.

Thanks for any thoughts or advice on the water pump placement.

Doug Dobbs
Greencastle, PA
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