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Old 11-15-2011, 08:01 PM   #1
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1985 29' Sovereign
Richmond , Virginia
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 53
Bought my very first Airstream today, its a bouncing baby '85 29ft Sovereign :-)

WOOHOO! After months of looking, reading about rear end separation (both related and not related to travel trailers , jumping on bumpers, using big words like "rivet" and "pop rivet" with prospective sellers etc., I pulled the trigger on my first airstream today. I'm so darn excited...garsh...and I'm kinda assuming that, based on all the horror stories on here, that while it checked out great today, there will be a family of honey badgers living under my toilet seat when I start to remodel...

But...many, many thanks to all who post on here. I started about 8 months ago reading...have honestly probably spent close to 40 hours just reading through threads on this site...fascinating...it's kind of like Wikapedia, you start on "Bob Hope" and pretty soon you are reading about "how cold rolled steel is made"...cept here you start on "rear end separation" and end on, well, "rear end separation"

So. I think I did right. I climbed all over the trailer (mid-bath model with double bed in back), looked under the cabinets, pulled up carpets, jumped on bumper, ice picked the floors, waved the #7 chicken bones over everything etc. etc. I've looked at a bunch of Airstreams, and this one seems by far the most sound (I was most concerned about a solid shell/floor/frame/guts as I will be renovating the interior pretty much completely). Everywhere I looked there were no signs of water/rot, subfloor was sound etc. etc.

But, its 26 years old. So I've got a couple of concerns/questions, based on the photos below:

1. This one passed the bumper test, on both sides the bumper and shell move together. But on one side (where the water hose attaches) of the bumper the outer side of the frame is pretty rusted (the other side, per the pics, looks fine). When I poke through the rusted part it is solid behind, but should I be concerned or make this a priority to address?
2. No pic, but underneath this model the black water tank is by the axle and is enclosed in a steel (?) case. On this unit one side of the steel is rusted through, can I just replace the steel or does this "case" play some part in holding the black water tank from falling onto the road. All else underneath looks great.
3. On the top of the trailer, the clearcoat looks all splotchy, but the sides look great. Can I just strip the clearcoat off the whole trailer to make it look better, or do I have to polish the whole thing once I do that? Does one polish a mid-80's Airstream, seems like most of the highly polished ones are older? I don't care so much that it looks like a mirror, just want to figure out a way to clean up the top.

Again, many, many thanks to all who post on here...without this forum I would still be wandering in the wilderness :-)

Bill
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:13 PM   #2
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1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
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Welcome to the joys of Airstream ownership!

Time to change the details in your signature: year? model (Excella, but the look of it)? length? Names of the honey badger kits?

If it needs work, don't forget to camp in it as you work on any issues. It's important for you to remember why you bought it. So start with the roadworthy and safety stuff.

And again, welcome.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:27 PM   #3
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1966 24' Tradewind
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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Immediate Concern!

Your immediate concern should be the roof vents!
Your exterior shot of the roof reveals that the outer clear, acrylic cover appears completely gone, and the inner cover is exposed.
The outer cover keeps the rain out.
The inner cover just diffuses sunlight. It is not weatherproof.

As is, the rain will enter your AIrstream and run down the inside of the interior skin, soaking your insulation on the way to the floor where it will pool and rot the floor.

You have found an absolutely beautiful coach.
Forget the surface rust on the rear frame extensions.
Work from the top down to make it weatherproof before you do anything else.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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2006 19' Safari SE
Tucson , Arizona
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Hey Bill...welcome to the Forums and the Airstream way. Love your enthusiasm...just that will take you far in the process of getting out on the road...and if you do end up still wandering in the wilderness (and I hope you do get to do that), you'll be doing it in style! Enjoy!
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:44 PM   #5
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1961 16' Bambi
Wilmington , DE
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it's good that you did not forget the waving of the chicken bones!
always important....

cool!
enjoy!
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:58 PM   #6
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Canton , Georgia
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Beautiful! We stripped the clearcoat on our 89 Excella and waxed, it had terrible Airstream-pattern baldness! It looks fabulous now!
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:02 PM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Scottsdale , Arizona
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Welcome to Airstreaming! The steel case does hold up your black water tank and does need to be structurally sound. Welding a patch should not be too difficult since it is not an appearance item.
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:13 PM   #8
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Wickenburg , Arizona
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I have found the best results from placing the chicken bones in a pie plate with a 1/4 inch of sand in the bottom.....a gentle swirl.....wally aah. Have fun, we certainly do. Adios, John
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:57 AM   #9
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1966 24' Tradewind
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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More on Vent Covers

First do a visual inspection. They may be intact, and only appear to be missing in the photo. If so I apologize for being an alarmist.
If either or both vent covers have failed, you have two choices for your failed vent cover(s).
Rebuild the original, replace with a new lexan cover.
Several threads discuss the pros and cons of each. Andy at Inland RV has parts and materials to support either approach.
Must stop moisture penetration before the soggy Virginia winter sets in.
Here's a picture of my rebuilt, rear-vent cover on a 1976 Sovereign:
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:19 AM   #10
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1985 31' Excella
Seguin , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alumaholic View Post
First do a visual inspection. They may be intact, and only appear to be missing in the photo. If so I apologize for being an alarmist.
If either or both vent covers have failed, you have two choices for your failed vent cover(s).
Rebuild the original, replace with a new lexan cover.
Several threads discuss the pros and cons of each. Andy at Inland RV has parts and materials to support either approach.
Must stop moisture penetration before the soggy Virginia winter sets in.
Here's a picture of my rebuilt, rear-vent cover on a 1976 Sovereign:
Ken,
What product did you use to seal your roof. It appears to be a white elastomeric coating.
Warren Wundt
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:19 AM   #11
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1985 31' Excella
Seguin , Texas
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Bill,
Congrats! Thanks for sharing your excitement and apprehensions. A sense of humor and love for what you've (we've all) gotten into helps a lot.

I'm just starting out too, on a recently found 1985 Excella.
My first trip was to the Airstream dealer for some Sikaflex 221 and Parbond.
I have found the threads and disscussions on winterizing most helpful.

Enjoy the adventure.
Warren
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:58 AM   #12
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1976 29' Ambassador
Tarpon Springs , Florida
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Congrats on your new purchase. About a week ago I purchase my first. Your post has kind of put a damper on my joy. I purchased a 29' 1975 model without knowing the specifics on what to look for. I am afraid I may not have gotten the deal I thought I did.

It sounds like you did your homework. Very impressive. Any sources you used for guidance on what to check of likely problems would be appreciated. She looks great but I purchased with no power, gas or water hook up of any kind. Not smart but it was a good price.

Thanks and it is good to enter the World of Airstream with a fellow newbie.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:22 PM   #13
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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Check the seal on the flat plate that goes up under the rear of the trailer. Also check to see if the floor is rotten in the back. The floor rots and eventually the bolts holding the body to the frame rust away. If you don't have a rotten floor you will be one of the lucky ones. That plate is the root of all evil for Airstreams. Usually there is a small amount of rot to the right of the door.

Congrats and good luck.

Perry
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Old 11-25-2011, 02:46 PM   #14
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Congrats! You're in for a lot of fun!
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