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Old 01-18-2010, 04:50 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Seattle , wa
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New member, first trailer, rookie mistakes already

I acquired a rough 1979 Sovereign International (31 ft) and have found several rotten spots in the floor, the pans are full of wet rubbish (and seem to be just about trashed in general) and the frame is rusty. My plan is to gut it except for the center bathroom and the passenger-side of the galley.

I really (really) should have gotten advice before I brought it home but it's never too late, right? The absolute best would be if some kind airstreaming soul could look it over and suggest triage.

I'll be spending most of my time here in the repair / restoration areas.

Thanks!
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:14 PM   #2
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Pictures, we love pictures and it will help with suggestions.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:38 PM   #3
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2008 16' Safari
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Soft spots on the floor are always related to water leaks. This could be as simple as a window left open to a seam leaking. Your first step is to find out how the water got in and fix that. (don't forget that the trailer could have been flooded)
Pull out the carpet and/or flooring and get down to the plywood. Now you will be able to see the damage. If you only have small areas of rot you can just cut and patch. If it's really bad, you will have to gut the trailer, lift off the body and replace the floor. This is not as bad as it sounds and it gives you the chance to rebuild the trailer to your taste.
Post some pics of the plywood floor after you get the carpet out.
All of us that have had old trailers have had to deal with floor rot, you are not alone.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:52 PM   #4
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1968 26' Overlander
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Welcome

Carbuncle,

Welcome to the forums. It seems to me that the "rookie mistakes" you speak of become "experience". With enough "experience" comes "wisdom". Personally, I seem to be stuck in the "rookie mistake" stage.

There is a wealth of "wisdom" here on-line, however. The magnitude (number, size, location) of your soft spot will undoubtedly decide the scope of your effort. The same is true for the rusty frame. Surface rust or frame rails rusting through? Your photos and descriptions will help direct the "wisdom" where it belongs. I can pretty much promise, someone has faced your issues and worse and resolved them.

Welcome,

Roy
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:03 PM   #5
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Welcome!
You will find as I did over a period of time surfing in and out of the restoration etc threads, there is a wealth of infomation given and received by us Airstream lovers.
Be patient and all will be well. Yes, pictures are the best way to get repair answers from people that have "been there that"!

Bill
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:07 PM   #6
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. , AZ to Maine
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Just Like me, Except on the Left Coast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbunicle View Post
I acquired a rough 1979 Sovereign International (31 ft) and have found several rotten spots in the floor, the pans are full of wet rubbish (and seem to be just about trashed in general) and the frame is rusty. My plan is to gut it except for the center bathroom and the passenger-side of the galley.

I really (really) should have gotten advice before I brought it home but it's never too late, right? The absolute best would be if some kind airstreaming soul could look it over and suggest triage.

I'll be spending most of my time here in the repair / restoration areas.

Thanks!
Welcome Brother Carbunicle,
I did the same thing.
Did you say spending most of your money too?
Sure do hope your wife has a good job and she likes you a lot.
I love my Airstream, still working on it 10 years later, no rush.
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:11 PM   #7
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1969 23' Safari
New Orleans , Louisiana
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I'm a believer in "jump in" so you did OK..

This forum is your Rosetta Stone for renovations

I recommend you use the GOOGLE tab here for searching, which seems to give better results for me..

and PICTURES... we want to see pictures
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:14 AM   #8
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1978 31' Sovereign
Seattle , wa
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Thanks for the encouragement. Response were fast. Pictures will be coming.

So, how many inches in a small hole before it becomes a big hole?

The 1976 manual (there's a couple different year manuals included - I am not completely sure what model year it actually is) suggests a method for floor repair that implies access from below. I didn't see instructions on how to get past the underbelly and the insulation or what to do if there is a gas line, sewer line, etc. in the way.

In for a penny!
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:15 AM   #9
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If you post the serial number somebody here can probably tell you what model year and more.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:56 PM   #10
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queensbury , New York
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Quote:
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Pictures, we love pictures and it will help with suggestions.
nice landcruser
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:27 PM   #11
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From your pictures, it looks like you have multiple areas of rot. If it's like that all the way around, then a full floor replacement is in your future. The good news is that it appears your trailer is already mostly gutted, so you will have a good idea of what you're up against.

Unless you remove the entire floor from above, the only sure way to determine the extent of the damage is to cut away and detach the belly pan, and inspect from below. In these older trailers, a lot of the time the bellypan is in sad shape, pieces are missing, or someone has already detached and reattached, so it might not be that tough. When you're done with all repairs, you can then either reattach the old bellypan with patches to cover your cuts, or replace it with new aluminum if the old material is too far gone.

So basically, it looks like you are in for a Major Renovation. Don't fear, there are numerous individuals who have gone before you, and documented their efforts. I always tell new folks who are about to begin a Major Renovation that the following threads I will link are "required reading." As in anything, if you do your research, then the actual tasks are much simpler.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...ons-35399.html

There are many threads on that link, and many of them are quite lengthy, up to 65 pages or so and spanning several years of work on individual trailers. You should read them if for no other reason than to understand this is a MAJOR undertaking-- but a very rewarding one.

I've done some floor replacement and major renovation work of my own, so please feel free to check the links in my signature to see how some of my work has gone. I won't lie, it's been a TON of work (hundreds and hundreds of man-hours), and it has cost thousands of dollars. But it has been EXTREMELY rewarding, and when I'm done, I'll have a brand-new Airstream for significantly less than the cost of a brand-new Airstream.

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:55 PM   #12
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1978 31' Sovereign
Seattle , wa
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Link to pictures: Delivery through narrow alley, Day Zero

Picasa Web Albums - Carbunicle - 20100116_airs...

Sadly, my camera had some kind of stroke and I lost most of the pics. I was able to recreate some of the excitement.

The awning was damaged but it was pretty low on my list of priorities to start with. In my opinion, they detract from the aesthetic although they are clearly useful.

Today's discovery: the water pump case is split. Oh well! I actually laughed and felt relieved because there is one more leak I don't have to look for.

Happily, the manual has instructions for removing it.

I guess I need to start using the blog section of the forum to document this.

Thanks to Utee94 for perspective on the belly pan and the links.
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:59 PM   #13
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Link to pictures: Member's Photos - Photo Gallery
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:10 PM   #14
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Missouri City , Texas
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Finding the leak

Before you start taking off the belly plan and removing the floor I would suggest that you 1st find the leaks and fix them. All of the holes and rotten floor look be be right along the outside edge where the floor, main body and belly pan all meet. You will see aluminum molding on the outside at this level going all around the trailer. It is not uncommon for leaks to start in this area and the result is patches of rotten floor. You can remove the blue plastic insert in the molding and this will expose the rivets that hold it to the body. By removing sections of this molding you can inspect the area wher the main body and belly pan attach. If there is a leak you should be able to detect by pouring water over the area and see it it gets wet inside.

Check this out.

Don

1976 31' Soverign
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