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Old 03-18-2009, 09:07 AM   #1
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Second time around

I have just become the owner of a 1973 31' Soverign. After inquiring about a number of Airstreams on the internet, I purchased one 45 miles from home. Listed at: 1979 Airstream Land Yatch For Sale < Airstream Campers | Vintage-Airstream.com , it is really a 1973 model but mistitled. It towed home beautifully with my 20o2 Silverado 2500, though I was worried about the old tires on it and the frame hiding in its belly. I have had some experience with a ~24ft single axle Airstream I had for several years in the late 60's, but am basically starting out anew with this one. I purchased it primarily to have an extra sleeping quarters for my friends when they come up for UF football games since my two 30+yo daughters have moved in the house with their 3 children after some economic and significant other problems. But my wife and I will also enjoy getting out in the AS for long weekends (Semi Retired-20/hr per week but with cattle, 3 horses, minature donkeys and horses, chickens, emus, and about 60 breeding exotic birds (parrots) on our 30 acre farm. Depending on the frame condition when I unbutton it, we might take a longer trip this summer in flat areas (think I am underpowered to pull in hilly areas). I have already parked the AS on our property and used it for a registration center for about 100 cavers who camped here for annual get together. The A&E awning on the trailer turned out to be in good condition and great for some chairs and tables to register the participants. My plans now are to put some new tires and alum wheels on it, check out the elec with the new deepcell 27 I bought, replace the right turnsignal rear light (hopefully a bulb only) and check out the propane appliances. Some previous owner has replaced the toilet with a normal household toilet, and I plan to go back to a marine type unit. Wife will do new curtains and a lot of other things I need to do (like someone carpeted the unit and did not make arrangements for the bathroom door to clear the carpet at the bottom. I was fortunate that the unit came with the owners manual and a service manual. The new wheels Surplus, Discontinued, Used, Scratch and Dent should come in Friday and I have new tires ordered from Sams, LT225/75R16E 115/112Q BFG Commercial T/A® A/S. After I get these on I will probably drive it north 40 miles to Sanders the Airstream dealer in Alachua Florida and get their opinion on the frame and axles, might have them do the wheel bearings then. Did not warm up or make any noises on my trip bringing home, but I know it has been a long time since they have received any attention.
What am I missing. I plan to put the trailer under my open dirt floor pole barn to avoid any possible leaks though the trailer is 31ft and the barn 24 wide (I see a 8-10ft wing extention in the future. I can do it as a pull through with no backing. I will be looking for a Reese Equalizer Hitch to pull any distance in the future.
This surely appears to be a great friendly and helpful forum.
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Old 03-18-2009, 09:35 AM   #2
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Sanders can give you a good idea of what you need and also tell you how to do it. They can do anything but are not opposed to giving helpful advice. Good luck AS neighbor. have fun,,,jim
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Old 03-18-2009, 09:36 AM   #3
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Oh ----GO GATORS.
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:11 AM   #4
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Welcome to the Forums

Glad you have come back to the fold!

No sense repacking the bearings if new axles are in the near future.

Most have found it cost effective to purchase the axles with full backing plates and new drums.

Good luck on your "discovery" search of required maintenance and repair.

Now that you are registered the "Search" function on the upper dark blue pull down line will soon become your best tool to find pertinent information.

It is not as user friendly as it could be, but sometimes the "Google" search built into it is helpful, as is the advanced search once you have an idea of where you want to go within the search engine.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afn10694 View Post
I have just become the owner of a 1973 31' Soverign. tires ordered from Sams, LT225/75R16E 115/112Q BFG Commercial T/A® A/S. After I get these on I will probably drive it north 40 miles to Sanders the Airstream dealer in Alachua Florida and get their opinion on the frame and axles, might have them do the wheel bearings then.
Welcome to Airstreaming.

Unfortunately, all to many dealers have no clue about the condition of torsion axles.

The following will help you to check yours out in 30 seconds, without using any tools other than your eyes.


A second test is to jack up the trailer on one side. The wheels should drop a minimum of 3 inches. If not, then the rubber rods have solidified, making the axles useless for a soft ride.

I note that you ordered "E" tires. They are "NOT" recommended for any Airstream, since they will cause a rougher ride.

Also, you cannot increase the the number of plys, beyond what was on the wheels for years. To do so, will make the wheels split around the circumference, as per wheel manufacturers.

Airstreams love a soft ride, and if does not have it, the trailer will reward you with many damages. Roughness comes from a super heavy duty tow vehicle, excessive rated hitch torsion bars, lack of proper running gear balance and/or bad axles. The Airstream is flexible and does flex when traveling. That's ok to a point. Beyond that, many strange things happen to the trailer, such as chassis fatigue (cracks), cracks in the shell, rivet shearing, water leaks, separating the furniture from the walls, etc.

Check out all the exterior gaskets. They last about 20 years or so. The sewer vent pipe cover gaskets, only last at this point about 2 to 3 years. If bad, they allow rain water to get into the wall, and then on the floor where you cannot see it.

It would also be wise for you to check for rear end separation. There are many posts on this Forums that cover that subject very well.

Andy
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:25 PM   #6
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hi afn10694 and welcome to AF. You're right, there are a lot of knowledgeable folks here, and they're friendly, too.

So, how about some photos of your new rig?
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:14 PM   #7
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Another hello from Florida and welcome to the forum. You will find answers to your questions.
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Old 03-19-2009, 11:29 AM   #8
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1973 Soverign checking out

Thanks for the welcomings. I installed the 27 battery yesterday and am checking out the electrical. The univolt hums but I am not sure if it is charging battery. No voltage on the connections when the battery is disconnected.But it appears all the 110 stuff works, including the Duotherm airconditioner. It worked fine parked in the now hot Florida sun. The furnace fan and thermostat works well as does the electric hitch jack. the front room and kitchen overhead lights work fine but the center bed area and bath overheads are not coming on for me, either missing a switch or compromised wiring, did not spend much time checking it out yet. Looks like the replacement ceiling fan/light covers need modification to fit (they seem to be a flat molding and miss some of the curve). I modified one to fit with a heat gun but a better fit will be made by extending the switch bracket an additional 1/2 to 3/4 inch. It makes a great cosmmetic improvement over the old faded yellow ones.
My rivet gun will not be in till next week (someone borrowed my old one 3 or 4 years ago) to finish the other 3. I had already read Andy's article on axles and knew before I road trip very far I should replace mine. So he will have another customer for Henshens in a few months (after tax time). I need to see what frame reinforcement I need to do before the axles, Meanwhile I have to get a big pile of 2x6 TG cedar moved from the pole barn area where the AS will be parked out of the rain and sun. All the gaskets are on my todo list as well as sealing. I am in a quandry about the tires. I know Andy strongly recommends against anything but D, but I have had difficulty in finding anything that I consider quality in less than a E. Others on the formum have recommended the LT Goodrich commercial TA's on an upgraded 16in aluminum rim and my thoughts tend toward them--a good American tire that is well thought of. My Goodyear days are over after about 3 failures (not Marathon). All the LT bias tires 700x15 look to be of questionable or unknown origin in this area.
There were some pictures in the sale listing I had on the original link 1979 Airstream Land Yatch For Sale < Airstream Campers | Vintage-Airstream.com
I thought I was posting an additional pix on the post but it did not take--I will try again and see what button I forgot to push
Jerry
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:35 PM   #9
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Congratulations, sounds like she is in good hands.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afn10694 View Post
Thanks for the welcomings. I installed the 27 battery yesterday and am checking out the electrical. The univolt hums but I am not sure if it is charging battery. No voltage on the connections when the battery is disconnected.But it appears all the 110 stuff works, including the Duotherm airconditioner. It worked fine parked in the now hot Florida sun. The furnace fan and thermostat works well as does the electric hitch jack. the front room and kitchen overhead lights work fine but the center bed area and bath overheads are not coming on for me, either missing a switch or compromised wiring, did not spend much time checking it out yet. Looks like the replacement ceiling fan/light covers need modification to fit (they seem to be a flat molding and miss some of the curve). I modified one to fit with a heat gun but a better fit will be made by extending the switch bracket an additional 1/2 to 3/4 inch. It makes a great cosmmetic improvement over the old faded yellow ones.
My rivet gun will not be in till next week (someone borrowed my old one 3 or 4 years ago) to finish the other 3. I had already read Andy's article on axles and knew before I road trip very far I should replace mine. So he will have another customer for Henshens in a few months (after tax time). I need to see what frame reinforcement I need to do before the axles, Meanwhile I have to get a big pile of 2x6 TG cedar moved from the pole barn area where the AS will be parked out of the rain and sun. All the gaskets are on my todo list as well as sealing. I am in a quandry about the tires. I know Andy strongly recommends against anything but D, but I have had difficulty in finding anything that I consider quality in less than a E. Others on the formum have recommended the LT Goodrich commercial TA's on an upgraded 16in aluminum rim and my thoughts tend toward them--a good American tire that is well thought of. My Goodyear days are over after about 3 failures (not Marathon). All the LT bias tires 700x15 look to be of questionable or unknown origin in this area.
There were some pictures in the sale listing I had on the original link 1979 Airstream Land Yatch For Sale < Airstream Campers | Vintage-Airstream.com
I thought I was posting an additional pix on the post but it did not take--I will try again and see what button I forgot to push
Jerry

Using 16 inch tires right now, might be difficult, depending on clearances.

After you replace the axles, then they would be fine.

Frame reinforcement is not necessary, but check for rear end separation.

Andy
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Old 03-19-2009, 03:38 PM   #11
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underbelly photos

My measurements show that I should be able to fit The 16 in alum rims. Not much difference in diameter but width will be tighter. The tires are the same size as my Silverado uses, if the E load range appears to harsh for the AS, I can always switch them with the D's on my truck. Some photos attached show why want to get new tires before I go too far. I do have a have a 24' autohauler trailer that I could get the AS home on, but it would be a hassle loading. Figure my next step, after getting the airstream in the barn will be to pull the rear bannana wraps and see how deep the rust goes, arranging repairs (have a MIG welder that I have never used), POR15ing it, and rebuttoning up. Photos attached show veiwable accessable rust areas. Appears to be no rear separation yet, but the rust has reduced the structural integrety I am sure. Hope I can do it sectionally without taking the shell off. in anycase I should be able to use it in place which was my original purpose. Having it now, I am itching to travel with it.
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:07 PM   #12
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photos of corrosion

will try to attach the photos
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