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Old 06-01-2009, 10:04 PM   #1
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1963 19' Globetrotter
Crystal Lake , Illinois
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Nice to meet you all.

I have been lurking here for a while now, and suppose that it is time to introduce myself. I really appreciate this great resource- and want to thank those who make it available.

My name is Lori, I live in the Chicago area, my husband and I are both artists and while we do DIY, we are not great at it, and really have no idea what we are about to get ourselves into.

I have just inherited my brother's airstream- a 1963 Globetrotter that has been sitting on his swampy Florida property for the last 5 or 6 years. Before that, it lived on dry land in Texas with my other brother - and before that, it was owned by my father here in the Chicago area. Dad bought it in the 80s from a man who took it camping once to Alaska- then had the front re-skinned due to gravel damage- and he put it into a barn and never used it again. When Dad bought it- it was like a time capsule- in perfect condition! (I remember that I always loved the airstream- but really fell for this one.)

Dad used it and so have both of my brothers, but it was still in mostly great condition when it left Texas. I suspect that the time in the swamp has been rough on it- (it is mostly just sitting there in the hot sun, occasionally put to use as a spare bedroom or guest house). I have no idea what to look for as far as damage... obviously, I will want to look for water damage- but what would that look like from here? What kinds of questions should I be asking? How will I know if it is not able to be pulled the thousand miles back to here? My brother died, so I can not ask him what he thinks.

I do know that it needs the foam and the upholstery replaced but that the wood is in good condition. Toilet works and water heater, stove, sinks and furnace. The fridge worked until recently and he thought that it would be an easy fix, (??). The skylight and the fan have recently been removed and there is plywood sealing the holes. ( !???!)

I will have to purchase a Tow Vehicle and drive a thousand miles each way- and do not want to do this only to get there and find that it can not make the trip. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:24 PM   #2
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Hi, Lori, and welcome to airforum. Sorry to hear about your brother... :/

As for your trailer, first thing that comes to mind is that the tires are almost certainly shot if they have not been changed in 5-6 years while sitting in a swamp, and so should be replaced before The Long Trek Home. I would also check and repack the wheel bearings while you have the wheels off.

Would be good to make certain that the brakes work before taking off too, I would imagine. Ditto for the running lights.

It sounds like your trailer is in restorable condition though. When do we get to see photos?
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:38 PM   #3
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Preparing Globe Trotter for Travel

Greetings LoriK!

Welcome to the Forums!

There will be several things to look for, but basics would include:
  • Obtain a set of magnetic or strap-on temporary tail lights to provide for the event that the original tail lights cannot be persuaded to operate.
  • Plan on a new pair of tires as well as rims if the coach happens to have original split-rim wheels.
  • Plan on having the wheel bearings repacked -- and given the length of time the coach has been sitting and the climate, you might want to consider installing new fully loaded backing plates to be sure that the brakes and bearings are in tip-top condition -- the drums may also need to be turned to true and match the new shoes.
  • You will also likely find that the break-away switch will need replacing -- the part is inexpensive and is very easy to replace.
  • Given the coach's history of long stretches of inactivity, the Dura-Torque axle has probably taken a set and isn't likely to have much action -- you might want to consider a new pair of shock absorbers that may give you a little additional protection for your coach on the long trip back to Illinois.
  • Check the "A"-frame hitch for any obvious perforations or serious rust penetration -- surface rust is to be expected, but if there is any rust through or near rust through professional (welder, etc.) inspection is called for.
  • You will need a hitch with a 2" ball rated for 6,000 pounds if the coach has its original Marvel coupler.
  • You will want to verify that the rear bumper is solidly attached to the balance of the frame -- sitting on it at either end as well as the center should highlight any excessive flex -- a small amount while not a good sign isn't necessarily a big danger signal (1/4 to 1/2" of movement might indicated rear end separation).
  • If you are concerned about frame rust -- one method is to use a rubber mallet and use it to strike along the main frame railes listening for excessive metallic particles bouncing around that might indicate rust flaking -- if this rudimentary test provides questions about the only way to determine if there is an extensive problem is to either drop the bellypan for inspection -- or cut an inspection hole in the bellypan to see what is going on. Give the relatively short 3 year duration of its exposure to the high moisture conditions, I wouldn't anticipate any serious damage -- lots of surface rust would be probable.
  • Prior to towing the coach:
    • Carefully examine anything attached to the exterior of the coach to be sure that it isn't ready to take flight when you hit the road.
      • Check every access panel to be sure that it is securely attached and latched.
      • Check roof vents to be sure that the aluminum covers are solidly attached to the lifters and the lifters are firmly attached to the coach.
      • If the coach has an air conditioner, checking the shroud to be sure that it isn't seriously cracked posing a potential hazard should it decide to fly off.
      • Check to be sure that the LP tanks are securely attached to the tongue, and that the center rod is securely attached to the tank carrier (the cotter key or jam-nuts at the base of the rod are often corroded to the point where they are not capable of securing the tanks when on the road).
    • Check each of the windows to be sure that both the frame and window are secure -- the windows should be latched from the inside and the frames should be inspected looking for missing molding that secures the glass -- if you can see the raw edge of the glass, the window is a candidate to depart the frame under the pressures of being on the road -- duct tape or something similare can be used to temporarily secure windows that don't pass the basic inspection.
    • Check the refrigerator and range vent covers to be sure that they are firmly attached to the coach. If the coach has the original water heater and furnace, you will find exterior vent covers that you will want to check to be certain that they are securely attached.
The items that I have mentioned are those that would need to be checked and attended to prior to towing. There are many more things that would go into inspecting a coach for purchase -- these are the towing safety related issues.

I am sure that if you feel uncomfortable making the inspections yourself that you will find a volunteer inspector near the trailer's location. Getting a coach assessed for travel is a familiar practice for most Vintage trailer owners.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:08 AM   #4
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1974 31' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Lori,

Welcome to the forums, and I'm sorry about the loss of your brother. Lost one of mine when he ws 40.

We recently brought our 31ft soveriegn out to California from Florida, and on the way here discovered frame rot. It had set on the beach in Fort Myers Fl for 20 years, and had considerable damage. It has since been 90% repaired.

You want to have someone drop the belly pan and look at the frame. They can determine if it is safe enough to tow home. There are some good people in Fl who will help you. We dragged ours out here and got within 4 hours of our goal when we discovered the issue. I would not reccomend this method for anyone else.

Good luck and keep us posted and don't forget the pictures.

Marie
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:06 PM   #5
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1963 19' Globetrotter
Crystal Lake , Illinois
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Thank you all for your replies, and for your sympathy regarding my brother.

These answers are very helpful and appreciated. I will have pictures as soon as I buy a tow vehicle and go get it. (dying to see some pictures of it myself, actually) Probably toward the end of June or beginning of july.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:35 AM   #6
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1966 20' Globetrotter
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another option

First let me offer my condolences for the loss of your brother.

One option for getting the trailer home would be to rent a car trailer and put the Globetrotter up on it. You would still need to make sure everything on the trailer is secure per Kevin's post below, but at least all the issues with the running gear and lights could be put off until you get home.

Laird
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:20 AM   #7
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Welcome!!

A 1963....hmmm....would like to see a couple of photo's.
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:22 PM   #8
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1963 19' Globetrotter
Crystal Lake , Illinois
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I want some photos too. I think that my sister-in-law is taking some today. Then we just need to get someone to help her download them and send them to me. (she said tomorrow or Friday).

If not, as soon as it is here, (or I am there) I have cameras and know how to use them.

Thanks for the welcome.
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:58 PM   #9
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Hello!

You mention in your post that you don't know the trailer's condition AND that you need to purchase a tow vehicle. It would be too bad to buy a truck or SUV and then find the trailer is not what you want. I'd suggest seeing if you could rent a tow vehicle, or get someone with a tow vehicle to bring the trailer to you. Some used vehicle lots will rent a used truck to you for the short term and then put it back on the lot when you are done.

Good luck.
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:46 AM   #10
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1963 19' Globetrotter
Crystal Lake , Illinois
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Quote:
Some used vehicle lots will rent a used truck to you for the short term and then put it back on the lot when you are done.
This is such a great idea! Thank you!

My sister-in-law sent me some pictures, and it is a little bit sad- but I don't think that it is as sad as I feared, (so far).. My brother was very sick for the last several years before he died- so this trailer was not so important to any of us during that time. These were all that she sent, but she has more pictures for me- hopefully tomorrow.

I am interested to hear what these pictures tell you airstream experts. In some of these pictures, I am not even sure what she is photographing, but I am including all of them. I think that the wood looks good. She said that the floor is solid and the only water damage is on the sofa and the wall behind it. She said that the trailer feels very dry.
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:19 AM   #11
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1964 26' Overlander
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Nice to meet you all.

Greetings LoriK!

The coach looks to be remarkably well-preserved to have been spending several years in a very humid climate. The wheels appear to be standard one-piece construction, but the tires are very weather checked and would be a blowout waiting to happen.

More than anything, the interior appears to need a thorough cleaning. The wood trim could benefit from a good cleaning and an oil treatment for moisturization. The toilet is a newer model as the original would likely have been a Saniware with a porcelain base.

I really believe that you will be surprised at just how well your legacy coach will clean-up with a little elbow grease.

Kevin
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:28 AM   #12
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1963 19' Globetrotter
Crystal Lake , Illinois
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Yes, the toilet was replaced by my other brother, (his wife wanted a new toilet). Silly to care, but I really do prefer the original, is there a way to replace it?
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:32 AM   #13
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Nice to meet you all.

Greetings LoriK!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoriK View Post
Yes, the toilet was replaced by my other brother, (his wife wanted a new toilet). Silly to care, but I really do prefer the original, is there a way to replace it?
Unless the original was tucked away in the back corner of a garage or storage shed, locating one won't be easy. There is the option of a new toilet with the china bowl -- there are two manufacturers who are making new models that are similar but not identical to the original.

Kevin
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:06 AM   #14
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Lori,

Welome to the forums, and sorry to hear about your brother. Seems like we have lost a lot of friends lately, too.

The trailer looks like it's in really nice shape!

In addition to tires it looks like it's ready for a new axle as well. (As a rule of thumb you should be able to see a few inches of tire above the wheel below the edge of the wheel well.) You could probably tow it home as it is with the trailer unloaded if you took it easy and avoided bumps. Can't tell without closer examination. Bringing it home on a flatbed trailer is another option.
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