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Old 06-19-2015, 08:39 AM   #15
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1984 29' Sovereign
Minneapolis , Minnesota
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I ditched the boyfriend and I'm diving into renovation this summer . . . Her name is Norma, and she's currently gutted. I'm going to blog about her HERE, but I'll link progress on this site, too.

I don't know if you all know this . . . but your replies to my original post were instrumental in shoring up my confidence. It's largely because of those replies that I was able to clearly see that my own gut was telling me, "everything is gonna be just fine -- you are on the right track."

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Old 06-19-2015, 03:43 PM   #16
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Way to go Jennie, I would never tell you to do what ya did but sounds like you did the right thing, LOL. As the folks said earlier, pictures are welcomed. Hoping I can post one day of a purchase like yours! Good luck.

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Old 06-19-2015, 04:14 PM   #17
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That is a nice looking trailer! Welcome to the forums. You will find lots of help and know how on these forums. Do not get discouraged. You have a big project, but do it a little at a time. It will be worth it. Some of my best friends, i have met at and airstream rally and we have remained friends.
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Old 06-19-2015, 07:02 PM   #18
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If you want help or advice, you are welcome to PM us and we will see what we can do. Chris started a new job this week, so no traveling this summer for us - kinda hard to ask the new boss for 2 weeks vacation right off the bat.... We are in a northern suburb so close to you.

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Old 06-19-2015, 08:26 PM   #19
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First timer from MN -- excited to be here, but w/ a curmudgeon at home

The advice above about attending first to exterior concerns -- those involving the trailer moving down the road -- are easy enough to tackle and are the proper start in that first this is mobile machinery.

Tonight was the first time I've read this thread, I'm impressed, so here's my best at how to get it underway as a controllable job:

Tires less than five years old. Conversion to 16" LT-spec is recommended, which means new wheels (it's a huge dress up change, so enjoy. Hi-Spec and Sendel brand wheels). New lug nuts. Stud inspection. Tires and wheels spin balanced, plus Centramatic balancers. Dedicated torque wrench for lug nuts and high quality tire pressure gauge plus tread depth gauge. A box for these.

LED trailer signal lamps, new 7-way harness and breakaway switch, coupler inspection/repair, hitch installation (a Blue Ox Sway Pro is a decent choice; see e-trailer). New safety chains.

Bearing repack, axle strength inspection, brake inspection/repair. Axle alignment check). These can be done by a big truck trailer service shop; ask local RV dealer where they send motor homes for alignments). If your state requires trailer inspections then also do that here. It may be needed for registration, etc.

Once back home, trailer tires parked on pressure treat 12x2 6' sections with beveled ends. Squares of same under stabilizers and tongue Jack door. Even if on concrete. Tires then inflated 10% over sidewall maximum for flat spot avoidance (change before towing). White tire covers.

Replacing/repairing roof penetration items (such as new A/C gasket among all others). TV antenna mechanism overhaul. On rivet heads: Captain Tolleys Creeping Crack Cure; all on cleaned/prepped roof. Window seal. Window operation (including emergency exit). Door seal. Door lock worn out? Etc.

Exterior compartment new gaskets. New beltline vinyl.

Threads read on rodent and vermin seal. Pesticide use in interior. Pesticide barrier around exterior ground. Etc.

Exterior-to-the-body rust repair and POR-15 paint to same. Propane tank mount, tank inspection and recertification; regulator replacement and new hoses. Black pipe inspection and leak detection inside and out. Your propane dealer can handle these or recommend who can.

New trailer exterior electrical power cord and inlet. Buy the best, here. A. Are for this.

Same for heavy duty electrical work cords. If pulling power from a distance be prepared to spend on that cord. And a multi outlet. Contractor quality. You can always resell these on CL later.

Fresh water hose with, first, a multi outlet hose manifold. Then a vacuum breaker second, pressure regulator third and any cheap disposable water filter in line followed by 45-degree attachment at far end to let hose follow line of trailer wall from ground. Caps for any unused outlets. Plumbers Teflon tape or grease at each connection. A plumbing gear and supply box.

Probably will need to replace waste tank outlets. A Blue Boy tank is recommended, now, early on.

Smoke, propane and CO detectors installed even if temporary locations. Fire extinguisher inside door and maybe another.

LED lamp installation for interior fixtures to be retained.

Stove fan, light and vent repair. Furnace bug screen on exterior.

Six volt deep cycle batteries. A 45A Progressive Dynamics converter with Charge Wizard. New circuit breakers installed. New Blue Sea or equivalent fuse panel. A dedicated electrical supply/gear box. Multimeter.

LED work lamps on stands for interior work. Butyl backed painters drop cloths as some basic gear for interior work. A great folding chair and chair table. A 5' tall roll of Reflectix to cut to fit interior windows to control heat. A box fan for floor.

Maxx-Fans for ceiling vents early on for interior work. If A/C needed, Coleman Mach 8 low profile. With heat strip and condensate pump.

The selection on the Sealant Summary thread read and acquired. How to store those.

This would, for me, constitute what I'd want done for the trailer first. I can safely tow and store the trailer with some confidence. And, I can go camping in my aluminum tent should I choose. My work is now to the trailer interior.

I'm on my third trailer in about ten years, (one was interim) and have a good way to go on the present one. Some projects have been put off, and some problems appear only after a heavy rainstorm, for example. Let's have that last not be a heart-break. It usually is. Same for vermin. Same most of all for unnecessary tire failure.

Now, extensive photos of interior and exterior for insurance. I use a zippered three ring binder for these (three, actually), for truck and trailer records, manuals, copies of sales brochures, electrical and plumbing schematics and service provider business cards. Don't depend entirely on electronic storage.

Starting with the exterior in the above feels as though it has taken up a lot of money. Yes, but the interior will take more. Folks put off the above often till last.

I am not at all alone in recommending this course as it all has the power to turn everything else upside down. The items listed aren't complete (the classic black and grey tank roof gasket replacement wasn't mentioned as well that those stacks are firmly IN the tanks as well as attached to walls inside. Same for A/C drain line in wall), but as a list of what to do first, it's close.

I hope this post gives an idea that reading on each before tackling them will save a great deal of mental anguish. It all comes back to emotional roiling. Detachment of those feelings from a specific task and keeping those otherwise to the big picture as advised in an above post or three. One learns how long to go before switching jobs. Etc. It can be daunting.

While the exterior work goes along, have some threads to read on what may be most enjoyable to you in the future. As you work on the trailer I guarantee that your eye for things will improve. It will become easier to do the interior based on familiarity with the exterior and road going items out of the way.

No surprises at the far end of things. Confidence

The interior sort of never ends anyway. Always something.

Best of luck.

(Boy, I've written some long posts over the years, but this may be the longest).
1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:05 PM   #20
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First timer from MN -- excited to be here, but w/ a curmudgeon at home

Of course I forgot one of the most important items, but I don't own an Airstream and it doesn't apply to mine:

A good trailer jack and absolute mastery of WHERE jacks can be used to raise the trailer.

DO NOT allow your trailer to be raised by any but an Airstream dealer without insisting you be present. Or that those points are very well marked if you leave it for service.

That the service manager be made aware of this concern, not just garage or office personnel. Put this in writing on the estimate paperwork that those points are marked and MUST be used. No exceptions. If he's at lunch, wait for him. Or go back to meet him. Best that he is impressed by you in person. After all, it may be a long term relationship.

Also, as to tires, decent ones would be Maxxis UE-168 (not 8008), Firestone Transforce H, or BFGoodrich Commercial T/A in Liad Range D or E. I'm recommending these as yours may be sitting quite a while. Cheaper than this is NOT recommended any more than are ST tires. Too many problems with gigantic heartache potential. It isn't the flat, it's the thousands in damages caused by blowouts.

Best tires should be installed once you're traveling a few years hence. And then the tire name should be either Bridgestone or Michelin. (Same for your tow vehicle. And that you don't need for a good while. A tire pressure monitoring system for both vehicles at a that point, plus TUSON electronic anti sway trailer brake control. And DIRECLINK brake controller, probably).

Again, best of luck.
1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:25 PM   #21
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And since I can't get off the topic of what I'd do first, I'd also recommend these:

Once in the interior the first concern is the reefer. If it checks out good (use Dinosaur boards if needed) the unit still needs to come out. Their weight has a way of loosening cabinetry and there is no knowing what a PO may have done or not done without removal. The main thing here is checking for solidity of attachment and sealing up air leaks to trailer interior. As well, the installation of a ventilation boost fan kit with external switch as long you're in there.

As the furnace is often under it or next to the reefer, good to do it as well. The latest versions have stainless fire boxes, the older ones were of steel and can develop pinhole leaks not visible that nonetheless put CO in the trailer interior.

The water heater is usually easy, in an overall sense. I recommend gas/electric models. Install a reignite kit and a winterization bypass.

The stove/oven often needs nothing but a good cleaning and checking for proper operation. IMO, even if you install a microwave/convection combo, keep your oven.

The diagnostic tools for these appliances, and the familiarity of their use (what readings mean based on experience) is what I'm willing to pay a GOOD RV tech to use. Ask around for a good one. It's not like car mechanics as to the number of them and their depth of training. LEWSTER here on AIR is an example. (Always check his posts on a subject). Too many techs aren't worth having show up. I prefer this over using dealerships.

Plumbing will need to be converted to PEX.

As an overall, water is the big picture for a trailer. Leaks from exterior, and disasters from burst interior plumbing. Therefore I consider "water" the most important thing.

But, in truth, propane is the thing that without it we wouldn't have an RV. That liquid energy heats us, the water and preserves and cooks food. One can even install a nicely nostalgic propane light fixture. Thus it is in its way first, once the genuine threat of water control is addressed.

Think and address interior items as systems. Not components once past major appliances.

The order of things as I see it is above: appliance operation (remove, repair and/or replace). Plumbing supply lines replaced, and drains checked (or replaced later with new fixtures).

Expert propane inspection. Then onto electrical. It's not so important, it is an optional system except for the furnace fan. Allow that to sink in. Especially as it can be irritating to work upon. And doesn't keep me from going camping.

Finally, if you anticipate using an electric space heater as you work on and later camp with, allow me to recommend the DYSON Hot/Cool unit. A thread on this minor appliance worth reading on AIR. You can use it year round (although never a furnace substitute below freezing as that warms all tanks). That brand also has best vacuums, storage of same the problem. The brand really is worth paying for on these items. A small wet/dry shop vac in the mean time.

Guess I felt you're here for the long haul, and hope it is so.

Use Google as your search engine, the one here is inconsistent. I enter "airforums" then the search item then "trailer". I use a big folder on the laptop with many sub folders arranged first by Exterior or Interior then onto Systems, then onto specific appliances. Cosmetics have their own folders, be it window coverings, etc. Plenty of depth around here. Literally no end of reading. And I've tried. It's like going to the end of the Internet. Searches will turn up old threads that, if revived, alert others who have posted that it is reopened. And good advice or experience is offered. Plenty there are who may no longer post on a regular basis, but who may be pleased to show up and reply.

Simply starting a new thread due to a question is the last thing. But if you do, link those old threads. It's a service to others also interested in the topic, and it draws on the knowledge base. Those are the best threads, and they enjoy the best responses.

The restoration threads are the hidden gems if this site. Highly recommended. My favorite is Steve Bryant's work on his '34 as I am not deep in a lot of Airstream-specific issues. Great similarities in our trailer brands, but some issues are not. AEROWOOD for the start on that.

Highly important to save info found in an organized fashion. And have a good printer for when the job is at hand. Put sheets in protectors, and keep in binders after work done. Pics also worthwhile for your records. And a good way to ask questions. Thus the recommendation of LED work lights on stands. Direct and indirect lighting.

Obviously, you needn't do anything in any way, shape or form I've suggested. Your Trailer and Your Money, after all. Your Time. But I have read one helluva lot of threads here and elsewhere the past eight years. Probably a few hours daily. Thus is all the above filtered.

Okay, I'm crying uncle.
1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:02 AM   #22
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you are awesome.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:26 AM   #23
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First timer from MN -- excited to be here, but w/ a curmudgeon at home

Well, third generation and more than a half century of constant interest.

Saw the 48 this way before graduating high school.
Born and raised.

Doesn't mean I haven't learned the hard way or tried to cheap out and wound up having to do things twice which is far more expensive. Have had my mind changed for me more than once.

The Net makes the curve much easier. Books and periodicals are basic, but notcnearly so many details or images can be conveyed that way.

Oh, and in doing searches on Google versus directly in a subforum can bring up posts in unrelated threads (usually a resto thread); save those posts immediately. Two old guys discussing details on an installation, etc, not to found discussed elsewhere.

And, thx.
1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 06-21-2015, 08:51 AM   #24
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1984 29' Sovereign
Minneapolis , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Slow Mover,
I am going to try and express my extreme gratitude for your unbelievable generosity of knowledge, experience, and spirit. I fear words will fail me, so instead I'm going to heed your advice, do lots of reading, and take my sweet time.
I am indeed in this for the long haul. Before you replied, I was feeling a bit lost, attempting to tackle that which felt manageable (paint!), but I knew I'd need to do some 'serious' work before long. You've provided me with a priceless roadmap for this long journey, and I'm so, so grateful.
I am also lucky to have purchased her from friends, so I know some of what they've already done (re-welded the base frame, sealed windows and doors), and these guys are available for questions as they arise.
I read ALL about the wheel conversion last night
Eventually I want to be a full-timer. I want to make that happen in the next five years.
Again, thanks -- I'll keep you posted.
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Old 06-21-2015, 09:02 AM   #25
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Thanks for sharing the adventure. I look forward to following your progress.
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Old 06-21-2015, 02:09 PM   #26
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Hi Jennie456 from MN. Nice to meet you. I'm an Airstream nut from Minnesota. I have an 86 Airstream, very similar to yours. Ours has been in the family since new. And I've done several repairs and upgrades since we got it in 05. I enjoy working on the thing. And we both enjoy traveling with it in our retirement. We've been to Galveston, Oregon coast, and Acadia NP in Maine so far.

I have noticed those who work hard generally do better. Keep working hard, as this Airstream is going to suck up a lot of your disposable income until you get it finished. I've got $13k in my old Trade Wind, and I still have some woodwork to do. I have learned on these forums that those who have cabinet making skills finish off their trailers quite nicely. I'm more of a mechanic type and never learned cabinet making. I have a hard time making a shipping crate!

Actually, your trailer is new enough that you might be able to find some used Airstream cabinets somewhere. My 86 has those fancy hickory cabinets from the factory and they are quite nice, and quite durable. I'll bet there are "Airstream interiors" for sale cheap every now and then when someone is building a food vendor trailer or mobile hair salon out of one.

These old Airstreams last a long time, tow great, and are comfortable travel trailers. You will enjoy getting yours travel ready again.

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Old 06-21-2015, 02:44 PM   #27
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This thread is too cool not to follow. Jennie, I wish you all the luck in the world on this journey.

Mike and Anita
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Old 06-21-2015, 05:04 PM   #28
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jennie456, you're more than welcome. Every once in a while one gets a spur to act (write) and, voila, here we are.

So I'll write one more long post on this thread. Implicit in my comments should be the idea that if this trailer is not the right one, then the tools, the gear and the preparation will apply to any. Organizing the minds energy is the thing. Well harnessed to the task.

Organization is in some ways the hardest thing to achieve. With an emphasis on it, though, I find that all the money spent seems to make more sense when I look at toolboxes (system organizers) and attendant paperwork (and electronic records) all of which show manifestation.

A camera is a good tool for this reason, alone. Something to share with others, not just a way to ask questions with an image in hand. A review of work. Without satisfaction energy lags. Thus, proof of life.

The "cost" of my labor, if you will, is in making these mental & physical divisions. To be both the boss and the employee. I want my employees to have the tools and supplies they need, thus I need to change hats and this, I feel, is where many folks become overwhelmed. The energy to do both of these things is real. Can't use it all up on one side or the other. Most shortchange the boss role to be the busy bee worker. Extend the mindless as long as possible.

I'd say that daily progress is more to the point, and that this needs a defined beginning and end: set up, do the work, take down. Set an alarm to start take down. Can't leave the worksite littered. Or files opened and prone to accidental erasure. Have a definite end to the day, no matter whether boss or employee hat in place.

Frozen dinners or pizza delivery isn't always the thing. I want to know before I start when I'll stop. Over time this unconsciously causes me to use my work time better. And that the natural end of the day isn't always take a shower, eat junk and fall into bed. That weakens us spiritually. A nice dinner and time to sit outside may be the thing, instead.

So it seems like it's 1.5-2 jobs to do it all. Yes, just find the balance that works. Don't be too rigid, but have boundaries that work based on how you feel about the overall job, not just the one in front of you. When it's frustrating, stop and do something else. Change hats the rest of the day if need be. Most problems are between our ears. And don't leave the boss jobs to once a month, either.

An employee can immerse himself fully in the job at hand. No cares in the world outside it. Makes notes for the boss, maybe. Is otherwise taking care to not make expensive mistakes and in being thorough. (The best employee knows when to stop on a job piece. That takes time to learn).

Next day the boss shows up, cleans tools and reorganizes the workspace. Then does some research. Looks to combine a buying trip for several jobs if they are current with each other. Crunches numbers, changes the parts spec to stay in a budget, etc.

Next day, the employee . . (And so forth).

There should be a division between these jobs. I know we all share the experience of feeling differently when we are dressed up for an occasion. I've noted in this work when I head out in old ruined employee clothes to do quite a bit of spending (not just a parts run) that it would be more appropriate were I to show that different side of myself. Results are better when I do so. The reactions of others, not just mine, etc.

My ex got me to watch a movie with her called Legally Blonde and it cracked me up that not only did Reese Witherspoons character take this dress-for-the-occasion bit out to a far point, but that it worked for her character and was a solid part of the movies humor. RW really pulled it off.

I know that this sounds silly. But I do feel that an outward change should accompany the inward change. Experiment. Be silly, if only to yourself. You may find that farmers overalls are great to work in. But hardly the thing for anything else. Once we put on the hat, then, a familiar and increasingly comfortable day spreads out before us. We know what we are about. This is freedom, as I see it. It's relaxing. I am doing one thing, not every thing.

Now, as to specific employee skills: As another contributor noted above, we most of us find one way of doing things closer to our present level of comfort. I am no carpenter either. I cannot afford to mindlessly remove the bathroom to get at the plumbing for I am not good at repairing my mistakes. It takes me quite a while to disassemble, sometimes. And I drop fasteners in little zip lock with a note telling me where they go. I'm far more comfortable as a mechanic where the mind of the designer and function of the machine are evident at every step. My "mind" isn't needed. Not for me the spatial relationships of something created from a few pieces of wood. I hardly know where to start.

But a trailer needs the technical skills (electrician, plumber, mechanic) as well as the more subtle design challenge of the interior to make it a reality. One can look at many gorgeous renovations (different from restorations) in admiration.

But there are almost invariably owner compromises made versus the work of the factory. Ergonomic inconsistencies and loss of storage chief among them. The folks who oversee this at the OEMs have their hands full. They are full time occupations. The range of problems to solve in a travel trailer magnify every mistake made. In short, I don't believe I've seen but one example where the owner improved over the factory. And his changes were so subtle as to almost not be noticed. But the effect was impressive. Raise this just a little. Make that cabinet a tiny bit more shallow. And suddenly the comfort of ones arm while seated, and the improved view from the window, raised the experience to a higher level. It went from being comfortable to being near perfect.

That's a long way away from where you are. And you needn't concern yourself with it. Maybe not for years, if ever.

So it isn't fair to call the employee mindless and purely physical any more than it is to say that the boss role is purely cerebral. The impressions and notes by each are the facts on the ground, and each have their aesthetic side.

As to the roles of the boss, one must plan time away from the job efficiently, not just keep track of finances. Have a trip plan to stop several places that day without wasting time behind the wheel, for example. Go to the farthest point, avoid left turns, and keep the distance short on time. (Mapquest can handle route order; a giant loop out and back). Mindlessness here takes away mental energy and spends it in traffic frustration. Forgets the apt question at a supply house. Doesn't "see" something that later would have proved valuable. Etc.

We can keep going on this division of labor. But it's really just a pair of catch alls. The biggest pair of toolboxes or storage organizers.


Nationally, there are stripped and gutted trailers for sale all the time. Ruined, IMO, if it's one of the rare examples of my brand. An employee reveling in mindlessness. No boss. Then it sits a long while, and then it gets sold. It's "overwhelm " every time. A pinball machine flashing "tilt". No surprise once we've seen it a few times.

No surprise, as the executive function is different from the chiefly physical one. And was ignored. Or not sufficiently developed. Not able to accommodate changes to the original ideas about the thing. And they will have to change. No one to rein in the horses before they blew out.

Both roles will become developed as you go along. Start with the road going concerns as then one needn't overly stress about traffic when moving the trailer to a service shop or another storage location. Do the exterior things to keep it weathertight and to keep it from further deteriorating. Those two done one can start camping. Air mattress, ice chest, etc. whether or not one does it

This will mark the end of the beginning. A goal in time, resources and is concrete.

It is certain that this is the period when one answers whether or not this trailer is worth continuance of work. It may not be. If so, it should be easier to advertise and sell due to the range of jobs done (even if they are not finished). I'd want to improve the appearance of the exterior to heighten buyer emotion if I thought this a possibility. So add that to the list. An extremely careful exterior cleaning. And rental of an ozone generator to eliminate interior smells.

"Looks good"and no funny smells is a big deal with an old trailer to sell. Alloy wheels with newish tires another.

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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