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Old 07-18-2011, 03:12 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1979 25' Tradewind
Seattle , Washington
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 14
Help! How might I assess damage while fulltiming?

I have a '79 TradeWind (Satine is her name) that has been in the family for about 8 years. I am now using it as a living space, so I would like to repair any damage and then renovate it.

The problem is that I am living in it, so I can only do small projects, or ones which I can break up into smaller parts.

I feel like if I am able to live in my AS, any problems I need to fix can't be too bad. On the other hand, reading horror stories from other users and browsing some of the major restorations/renovations has me really scared and overwhelmed! I don't even know where to start!

I would really appreciate a general estimate of what I might be expecting, or even just some moral support. I don't have a huge amount of cash to put into it or many relevant skills, but I do have a lot of time, access to a large cache of tools, a roofed over but open walled shop, and several highly skilled and knowledgeable people I can call on (a structural engineer with experience in architecture and construction from foundation to finishing, a mechanical engineer who now owns a business in appliance repair).

Satine's story is roughly this: when we got her, she was in very good condition. However, her inaugural journey led to a mild accident in which ripped the belly pan at the rear. She was assessed by an RV guy who told us there was no structural damage. The belly pan never got fixed, and a couple years after that we moved and had to leave her with a friend. The friend was highly irresponsible and while we were gone opened the windows to air out the trailer AND LEFT THEM OPEN. We weren't able to return to get her for another 5 years or so. The expected vermin and filth was cleaned out and she was serviced (new tires and brakes, lighting repairs and possibly other things.) She survived the cross country trip (Alabama to Seattle) and has been used at least weekly for the last year or so.

Summary: 7 years ripped bellypan, 5 years unused with windows open, 1 cross country trip.

So-- where do I start? Can I do the basic repairs, while living in the trailer and with only my resources (and a few hundred dollars)? Should I be fearing that some unforeseen problem will cause my Airstream to collapse around me soon if I can't manage the repairs?

Oh, and apologies for the long post, this is weeks of worrying and stress.

charzhazha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2011, 05:37 AM   #2
Well Preserved

1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 19,581
Since you're living in it, first thing, I'd replace ALL the cushions and mattresses, replace all the vent gaskets and probably covers, and all the window gaskets. You've had God-knows-what living, peeing and defecating on those cushions for 5 years, I sure wouldn't want to sit or sleep on them.
You'll need to replace all the gaskets to keep that damp Northwest air out of the trailer.
Now, for the belly pan. Was it the center sheet of aluminum, or was it one of the side or edge pieces that were damaged? If it was the large sheet down the center on the bottom, just find some good thick aluminum sheet, and rivet it over the tear/hole. If it was one of the edge or corner pieces, you will want to have somebody that knows what they are doing replace them. While it's not hard to replace the belly pan wrap or banana wrap, it does require some prior experience and mechanical ability to do it.
Good luck.

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
overlander63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2011, 05:19 PM   #3
1 Rivet Member
1979 25' Tradewind
Seattle , Washington
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 14
Thanks for the advice. The trailer has been thoroughly cleaned several times over, but the upholstery is definitely going to go. Right after the carpet.

I will look into getting the bedpan repaired professionally. Unfortunately my TV isn't all that reliable. Also, I am actually on an island off the coast of Seattle, so transportation is something to keep in mind.

On the other hand, replacing gaskets is something I think i can actually accomplish now, by myself. I have been looking at balgrns site about it and think i comprehend the steps. It actually sounds pretty rewarding and fun! I do however need to get the materials. Do most airstreams use the same type of gasket material? How would I go about getting the right size?

Thanks, Char
charzhazha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2011, 05:22 PM   #4
1 Rivet Member
1979 25' Tradewind
Seattle , Washington
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 14
edit: I have already been looking at balgrn's site and am guessing that my materials and process would be similar, because our models are only 4 years apart. Is this true? He doesn't talk about what specific gasket he used. What kind was it?
charzhazha is offline   Reply With Quote

renovation, fulltiming

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