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Old 04-28-2017, 11:24 AM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
Virginia Beach , Virginia
Join Date: Apr 2017
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yet another newbie!!

I will be taking possession of a 1971 Airstream Sovereign 31 twin within the next 30 days. I am drawn to the Airstream mostly because of "weather-tight" and durable exterior. I just lost a Gulfstream motorhome due to a bad storm, leaks and flooding so I am sensitive to the qualities of an Airstream (my first). Also, I own a 1973 GMC motorhome which is also very "weather-tight". I live in Virginia Beach, VA., and look forward to meeting other Airstreamers. Any input on specs for refrigerators, inverters, furnaces, tires brakes and especially axles ( I don't understand any of the axle concerns) would be appreciated.
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Old 04-28-2017, 11:36 AM   #2
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1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
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Estancia , New Mexico
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Welcome Eagleman,

A couple of quirks about vintage Airstreams is: 1. Airstreams, especially vintage, are prone to leaks. Especially seams, windows and the rear bumper area. These can be sealed, but need regular maintenance. 2. The aluminum skins are soft and prone to dents and scratches. If your 71 has the original axle replacement is a priority. The Suburban NT 28 furnace has a long expired recall because of a CO leak, Your original furnace may be a size up but you are better off with a new one. Your fridge may or may not work. The one in my 71 does. Plan on replacing the water heater. If you have an original Armstrong AC that works, keep it. They are bullet proof. Feel free to send me a PM if you have any questions. Get a 1972 Service Manual (71 not available).
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Old 04-29-2017, 01:15 PM   #3
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1971 31' Sovereign
Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Thanks for the info and the offer...

Thanks for the info. I will be checking axles upon receipt of the unit. Is there a way to tell if the original axles have been replaced? Do they differ in looks or markings? Also, might you know the model of the original refrigerator? Nice to know the original model numbers (like NT28) so as to tell if replacement has been done
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Old 04-29-2017, 03:55 PM   #4
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1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
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Estancia , New Mexico
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I know of no way to check the axles from appearance, unless they were just changed. But, other than a bit of surface rust original axles don't look outwardly that bad. Torsion axles have internal rubber rods instead of leaf springs that get stiff from age. The axle has torsion arms at the end that act like springs. Here is a few things to look for. 1. There should be a couple of inches of tire showing above the rim in the wheel well 2.The torsion arm should be in a horizontal or even better downward angle. And, I think most important 3. Jack up the side of the trailer under the axle mounting plate. The trailer body should move up a couple of inches before the wheel lifts. My guess is the seller would have told you if the axles were new. If they are original 99.9% you need to change them.

The original fridge is probably a Dometic 12v/propane with a manual spark lighter. Maybe a R60, but I am guessing. If it works, great. The spark lighter for propane may not work but you can light it from the outside access panel if you know where. I would plug the AS into shore power* and turn the fridge on. Give it a full day to get cold. If the elec works you can probably get the propane going.

If the AS has the original Univolt converter it may work. Interior lights working is a good sign. It will probably hum. It is a big blue box you can access from curbside rear outside compartment. It is a single phase converter and there are a lot of reasons to change it out to a new 3 stage converter. You probably need a battery for the lights etc. to work.
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Old 04-29-2017, 03:57 PM   #5
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Nellysford , Virginia
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WELCOME aboard, Eagleman. Always glad to see another Virginian joining the discussions. You'll find a wealth of help here.
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