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Old 10-22-2012, 11:08 AM   #1
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New member in MN hoping to learn a thing or two

Greetings! I was bit by the Airstream bug a few years ago and I'm just starting to think I might be ready to take the leap and start working on a fixer-upper. I'm hoping to get something from the 1970s, gut it and redo it with a custom interior. To me, preserving the original interior isn't as important as having a functional trailer with a comfy bed.

I'm currently considering a 1974 31' sovereign. The outside structure looks pretty good. There are a couple of rotten parts in the subfloor that will have to be replaced, windows are all intact but need to be sealed. I expect to pull all the interior skins off and redo the insulation as well.

I'd appreciate any advice from those of you who have been-there-done-that...encouragement, warnings, all are welcome. Thanks!
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:45 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

Sounds like you are truly looking to take the plunge. My first comment is that you might want to get all the back episodes of The Vintage Airstream Podcast. The early episodes will help callibrate your expectations. There is tons of information here on the Forums too, but you can listen relatively passively to The VAP while commuting, etc..

Second, is that floor rot in a 70's era trailer should not be taken lightly. In many cases, the entire rear (and other places) of the trailer will be rotted underneath the bathroom furnishings, the frame will be rusted through, and there will be "rear-end separation." If you didn't have in mind to do a shell-off, then either recalibrate your expectations, or proceed with extreme caution.

Good luck!
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:04 PM   #3
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Hello OakCreek -- welcome to the Forums!

Re-doing the insulation is a good plan if mice ever have been in an Airstream. And really is necessary if you're going to rewire to any degree. To prevent wear, be sure to use rubber grommets where wiring passes through ribs. The internal skin is structural. Label & save your pieces either as templates or to reinstall.

Digital cameras are great to keep close at hand. Taking a lot of pictures will be useful to you in many unforeseen ways.
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Old 10-22-2012, 06:17 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forums and airstreaming! We have a '72 we're redoing. Finally got her functional this fall but still building cabinets. I agree with Canoestream: take lots and lots of pictures as you deconstruct for reference later. Even if you're doing all new interior as we did, it helps to look back to how things were put together. Our thread here is "Little Girl Refurb". There are also many others that detail restoration and refurbishing. Do some reading up front and it will help you prepare!

Kay
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:21 PM   #5
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Welcome! I understand 70's 31' Airstreams are nice trailers, well worth fixing up.

By the way, when I looked up Farwell , Minnesota, I was directed to a site that said goodbye to the Vikings.



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Old 10-22-2012, 08:28 PM   #6
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By the way, when I looked up Farwell , Minnesota, I was directed to a site that said goodbye to the Vikings.
Split, I've got an original runestone I'll let go for $19.95. Reply with your original Mrs. Fields recipe and we'll call it even.

OakCreek, hope you find this to be a welcoming Airstream-talk home. And Minno & Splitrock are very helpful in my experience.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:06 PM   #7
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By the way, when I looked up Farwell , Minnesota, I was directed to a site that said goodbye to the Vikings.



`
Well I've never heard that one! Farwell, population 51, not far from Kensingtion...home of the Kensington Runestone and birthplace of America...a little geography trivia for you!

Thanks for the pointers. Rear-end separation and shell-off reconstruction are definitely two things I want to avoid so I'll be looking more closely at those areas.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:19 PM   #8
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Welcome! We have some great friends that live in Savage and Falcon Heights MN. Have had some great times up at Lake Vermilion! Good luck on your search!
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:01 PM   #9
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Welcome aboard, we are just north of you.

doug k
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:26 PM   #10
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My experience tells me that in buying an older Airstream trailer, the single most important thing is buying a straight and clean, no damage at all, body. That includes all good single pane operating windows, all screens on the trailer, good door and good screen door. Everything else can be replaced and repaired by an ordinary good mechanic.

A dented up body, in my opinion, isn't worth the effort and cash required to fix it up. It won't be a trailer to take pride in, and it won't have cost recovery resale potential.

Another deal killer for me would be anything missing. Missing, like awning, tanks, access doors, windows, or screens. Those are hard to find used and expensive new. I was quoted $1,800 for a new 21' awning. My front window rock guard cost me $550. I don't like rust or risk. Items that will need to be replaced on a 70's trailer are air conditioner, roof vents, water heater, furnace, range, refrigerator, water pump, and converter.

Then there's stripping and polishing the exterior. Buying the polish, the sticks, the buffer, the pads, and the Cyclo cost me north of $800 hard cash. The trim inserts cost an additional $180.

Maintenance items needed take days and cost some cash too . . . like all new window gaskets, all new door gaskets, sewer vent screens and gaskets, tires, brakes, maybe (read, probably) axles.

Even if/when the fixtures and appliances need to be replaced, it's nice when it's there to serve as a template for the replacements. My trailer took about 2 days to gut and two years to rebuild. My cost to repair and rebuild is north of the new cost of the trailer. I've been working on mine since June of 2010. I still have curtains to buy and install and a bathroom door to build. I want a Scandinavian recliner that costs $500.
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Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:54 PM   #11
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My two cents. Look for a clean indented body and good windows.
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:11 PM   #12
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HI, after rebuilding a 1975 Sovereign WRECK, a few tips, we tend to forget it
is a trailer..so running gear has to top off the list, axles, brakes, tires, rims,
hitch, lights etc. 2nd, weight, my sovereign had a factory weight of about 5000lbs,
The light frame in the 70's models are not built to exceed 7000 total. So
corien counters, tile floors etc are not a great idea. 3rd Try and find one with as many parts as possible. And most 70's have double pane windows. My one big mistake was not removing the belly pan and doing repairs and insulation.
Good Luck
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
Even if/when the fixtures and appliances need to be replaced, it's nice when it's there to serve as a template for the replacements. My trailer took about 2 days to gut and two years to rebuild. My cost to repair and rebuild is north of the new cost of the trailer. I've been working on mine since June of 2010. I still have curtains to buy and install and a bathroom door to build. I want a Scandinavian recliner that costs $500.
Splitrock

I sure hope that you don't mean 80K. I can see spending about 20K on a rebuild- the advantage being that you essentially have a new trailer at 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a new trailer 2013 trailer, assuming that you do the work yourself. The nice part is that a new trailer is certainly not any better than a properly rebuilt vintage trailer, and may not even be as good in certain ways.

I spent 7k for my 66 Tradewind. I don't think I will have more than 14k in it by the time I am finished with it.

I completely agree with you criteria about what is important when shopping for a rebuildable trailer.

I am curious about what the Scandinavian recliners look like.

Dan
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:01 PM   #14
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Splitrock

I sure hope that you don't mean 80K. I can see spending about 20K on a rebuild- the advantage being that you essentially have a new trailer at 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a new trailer 2013 trailer, assuming that you do the work yourself. The nice part is that a new trailer is certainly not any better than a properly rebuilt vintage trailer, and may not even be as good in certain ways.

I spent 7k for my 66 Tradewind. I don't think I will have more than 14k in it by the time I am finished with it.

I completely agree with you criteria about what is important when shopping for a rebuildable trailer.

I am curious about what the Scandinavian recliners look like.

Dan
Hi Dan,

My trailer was only made for one year . . . 1976. At that time new sale price was around $14,000.

The chair I have in mind looks like this.



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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...g?t=1278182564
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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