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Old 06-05-2007, 09:17 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
1976 25' Caravanner
horse shoe , North Carolina
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removal of exterior skins

could someone tell me the logical sequence to remove the skins from the rear half of a 31 ft sovereign. I tree flattened the area aft of the center bath. I would like to remove everything that is flattened which should leave me about 16 ft of useable space. I am having it delivered to me an about 45 days so I'd like to get some guidance on the best approach to take. I am assuming you need to drill out all the rivets; but don't know what I am up against after that. Thanks for your help.
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Old 06-06-2007, 08:29 AM   #2
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Are you planning to shorten the 31footer down to a 19 footer? Drilling the skins off is just a matter of removing the rivets. the shell of an airstream will become very unstable after any one skin is removed, and alot of temparory bracing and shoring will be required. I hope you have a lot of aircraft sheetmetal experience and the tools to do this because if you don't this may become difficult. Another issue is the frame and axles. The frame will have to be shortened and new lower weight rated axles obtained. This in my eyes would be a very viable and fun project.
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Old 06-06-2007, 08:45 AM   #3
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Kip (Aerowood) is the guy to go to for aluminum sheet metal expertise! I'll my two cents to his.

I'm redoing my mid-bath Sovereign, but only the interior. If you remove the section aft of the bath, you'll still have a very useable Airstream. From the bath wall to the tail end of the shell is about 80". Are you planning to just replace the end with a flat sloping panel? If so, you'll have a 25' very interesting looking Airstream.

There is at least 74" forward of the entry door, which would allow for a permanent dinnette and pull-out bed in that area, pantry and narrow closet next to the fridge, and all the space under the kitchen counter.

The real problem will be balance. At 25', you should retain two axles. You'll have to move them forward, which will put the wheel well under the fridge and probably far enough forward to interfere with the entry door. I think it would be easier to find another crunched trailer that has one end intact and scab that on. Not that you can't shorten an Airstream--others have done it.

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Old 06-06-2007, 09:26 AM   #4
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You will need a heat gun to soften the seam sealants to get the sheets apart and help on the stubborn rivets on the hidden side that can be embedded in extra thick caulking & refuse to push through w/o dimpling the aluminum.

However - anything that is damaged can be removed with the destruct-all saw of your choice, just depends on your tolerance to shrieking metal and aluminum shrapnel. The drilling only occurs where there are pieces to be retained, you can still cut along the scrap side of a seam and drill later. The interior liners probably should be dropped before chunking the shell since the glass fibers in the insulation is very tough on any cutting edge you put against it, besides the mess it makes, and to salvage the electrical wiring harnesses embedded within - plus the floor channel bolts don't lend themselves to be cut or ground off from beneath the trailer, they need to com out from above usually...

For a balanced trailer when reusing the frame and forward shell you may need to remove frame sections in between the axles and hitch 'A' frame, which means relocating the wheel-well skirts - or leaving the wheel well shell section attached and shortening everywhere else to make it fit. Remember you can cut and overlap the exterior shell pieces if you are very lucky or very creative, so the only drilling you do will be for new rivets and shell frame doublers.

If I didn't have damaged shell end caps on both ends I might be looking at the same project - but remember the AS floor and frame is built more like a cable suspension bridge than a beam-girder railroad overpass; it will not convert to a utility trailer without having jacking it up and sliding a utility trailer underneath and then removing the AS frame
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Old 06-06-2007, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psundstrom
could someone tell me the logical sequence to remove the skins from the rear half of a 31 ft sovereign. I tree flattened the area aft of the center bath. I would like to remove everything that is flattened which should leave me about 16 ft of useable space. I am having it delivered to me an about 45 days so I'd like to get some guidance on the best approach to take. I am assuming you need to drill out all the rivets; but don't know what I am up against after that. Thanks for your help.
You cannot remove the segments and reuse them, unless you remove the ends of the roof sheet, the window sheets and the lower side sheets.

The reason being is that when the front and rear shells are made, the segments are held in place on the main bow, with "blind" or flush rivets.

Additionally, you will also find "vulkem sealer" holding the metal together, with much vigor.

You cannot get to those rivets unless you remove the ends of the exterior metal.

However, if the trailer is gutted, you can remove those "blind" rivets, but be extremely careful that you don't drill thru the other sheets of metal.

It would also be wise to obtain a "service manual" that will guide you thru many procedures and processes.

Should you order a manual, provide the trailer serial number, to make absolutely sure of the year.

Andy
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Old 06-06-2007, 01:13 PM   #6
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Good poop, Andy. I hate those hidden rivets, when I find them. I've got a Sarair with damage right at the bow, mostly in the curved section, but some in the side sheet. I would have struggled getting at that joint if I hadn't known about the flush rivets. Thanks.

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Old 06-06-2007, 07:18 PM   #7
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for all this helpful feedback! I hope to learn quite a bit from this project. As far as the balance issue and axels this isn't going to be a concern to me on this project. I want to shorten it and then as zeppelinium sugested I'm going to have the dinette and pull out bed and closet next to the refrigerator. I don't need the range but the sink is in great shape. As Aerohead mentioned I don't have any experience with metal work and wouldn't dare to attempt to get this roadworthy again. I'm building a platform about 8 feet off the ground and going to have a crane place it on it. I hope to learn quite a bit so when I pick up an as in better shape I'll be ahead of the game. This is going to be more of an observation post. watching the deer etc. The info on heating the sealant helps alot and Where to I go to get the repair manual Andy. Once again thanks everyone.
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Old 06-06-2007, 07:40 PM   #8
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Very good idea. It will make a perfect hideout.

If you ask specific (and limited) questions, many of us have the maintenance manuals and can look up individual drawings or instructions. I looked at the shell chapter today to see how detailed the instructions were for parting the panels and there really isn't much more than Andy posted already.

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Old 06-07-2007, 10:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psundstrom
Thanks for all this helpful feedback! I hope to learn quite a bit from this project. As far as the balance issue and axels this isn't going to be a concern to me on this project. I want to shorten it and then as zeppelinium sugested I'm going to have the dinette and pull out bed and closet next to the refrigerator. I don't need the range but the sink is in great shape. As Aerohead mentioned I don't have any experience with metal work and wouldn't dare to attempt to get this roadworthy again. I'm building a platform about 8 feet off the ground and going to have a crane place it on it. I hope to learn quite a bit so when I pick up an as in better shape I'll be ahead of the game. This is going to be more of an observation post. watching the deer etc. The info on heating the sealant helps alot and Where to I go to get the repair manual Andy. Once again thanks everyone.
We have the manuals.

Andy
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Old 06-07-2007, 10:06 AM   #10
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It still sounds like a fun project. You will definitely have a very unique deer "blind"
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