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Old 06-18-2015, 09:42 PM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Removing interior skin

Hello everyone. I'm new to the Airstream community and have recently acquired a 1975 Airstream Sovereign 31 foot trailer. The front end has damage to 3 panels from falling tree branch. I currently in the process of gutting the trailer and removing the damaged interior front panels and exterior panels. My plan is to replace the 3 exterior panels with new, then go inside and remove all the interior panels. What are your thoughts on removing all the interior panels while leaving the exterior panels intact?

I'm looking at replacing all the insulation and wiring.
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Old 06-18-2015, 09:59 PM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
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"What are your thoughts on removing all the interior panels while leaving the exterior panels intact?"

That's no different than people normally taking the interior panels out for renovation. The interior panels are meant to be able to be removed while keeping the exterior shell intact.
Considering the damage, you may want to pull the interior end cap and drop a few feet of the overhead panels so you can get to the inside of the new exterior end skins so you can buck rivet the new panels in.
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Old 06-18-2015, 10:07 PM   #3
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Be choosy with the wiring, you'd be surprised how much there is in those walls, if you start cutting and removing wiring, especially 12v you can have unintended consequences. Lots of things tap off of the same circuit and breaking that circuit can affect things you didn't realize it would. For the 12v I'd stick with cleaning it up, and making sure all the connections are solid. Maybe upgrading a fuse panel and converter.
The 120v ac is actually a bit more straight forward.
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Old 06-18-2015, 10:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by mgjurina View Post
My plan is to replace the 3 exterior panels with new, then go inside and remove all the interior panels. What are your thoughts on removing all the interior panels while leaving the exterior panels intact?

I'm looking at replacing all the insulation and wiring.
If done correctly you need to buck rivet the exterior skins. That is not possible with the interior skins intact.

And wow what job! That's some serious damage
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:36 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums!

Wow, that is some project you have taken on!

Note, the formed sections that make up the rounded ends of the trailer are refered to as "segments", and the flat sections are called "panels." In the ends of the 70's trailers every piece is a segment, meaning it is a stretch formed part that curves in three dimensions, not a flat sheet that is just bent to form a curve. This is probably obvious in the upper sections that form the roof, but it is also true of the mid level, and lower "corner" pieces. So as I look at your pictures, I see that the top three segments are wrecked, but so is the middle segment on the driver's side (street side), and the lower corner segment. Can't quite tell from the picture whether the mid and lower segments on the curb side are damaged. The center panel will also need to be replaced, but that is just flat sheet.

The good news is that these segments can all be purchased new, the bad news is that between the cost of the part and the shipping, it is going to be eye-opening. The other good news is that the wing windows both appear to be intact and the center window frame should be salvageable.

Your interior plastic endcap is likely destroyed, but kits are now available to build segmented aluminum interior endcaps, so that is at least an option, since new plastic endcaps are not available.

Anyway, good luck--keep us posted on your progress!
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:52 AM   #6
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I am SO astonished those windows survived!!!!
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:18 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by reinergirl View Post
If done correctly you need to buck rivet the exterior skins. That is not possible with the interior skins intact.

And wow what job! That's some serious damage
What is a buck Rivet?
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Welcome to the Forums!

Wow, that is some project you have taken on!

Note, the formed sections that make up the rounded ends of the trailer are refered to as "segments", and the flat sections are called "panels." In the ends of the 70's trailers every piece is a segment, meaning it is a stretch formed part that curves in three dimensions, not a flat sheet that is just bent to form a curve. This is probably obvious in the upper sections that form the roof, but it is also true of the mid level, and lower "corner" pieces. So as I look at your pictures, I see that the top three segments are wrecked, but so is the middle segment on the driver's side (street side), and the lower corner segment. Can't quite tell from the picture whether the mid and lower segments on the curb side are damaged. The center panel will also need to be replaced, but that is just flat sheet.

The good news is that these segments can all be purchased new, the bad news is that between the cost of the part and the shipping, it is going to be eye-opening. The other good news is that the wing windows both appear to be intact and the center window frame should be salvageable.

Your interior plastic endcap is likely destroyed, but kits are now available to build segmented aluminum interior endcaps, so that is at least an option, since new plastic endcaps are not available.

Anyway, good luck--keep us posted on your progress!
Thank you for the knowledge. I was unsure on the interior panels for the front. Yes, the plastic shelf is destroyed. I have priced the panels between $400-$550 per panel (bad news). Good news is that I have 12 months to complete this project. Currently I'm still removing interior furniture and slowly purchasing replacement parts such as lights, latches, etc.
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Old 06-21-2015, 09:25 AM   #9
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just a thought but at this cost wouldn't finding a donor trailer be an option?
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Old 06-22-2015, 05:46 PM   #10
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just a thought but at this cost wouldn't finding a donor trailer be an option?
I have found a donor trailer with extremely poor interior, holes in floors, all appliances and furniture destroyed. Shell is intact with no dents. Owner wants $2000 for the trailer. The title has issues and I'm currently waiting for the title issues to clear up. Is it worth the $2000 to buy used panels with holes in them?
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Old 06-22-2015, 06:25 PM   #11
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Buck Riveting

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Originally Posted by mgjurina View Post
What is a buck Rivet?
The exterior shell uses a solid rivet for attachment. "Bucking" is the method for deforming the rivet shaft so it is permanently attached. The process requires access to both sides, a two man job on an Airstream, so one can hold the anvil (bucking bar) while the other strikes the other side with the rivet gun. The interior skin attachment uses a blind rivet.

The process is more throughly explained and shown on YouTube:
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Old 06-22-2015, 06:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgjurina View Post
I have found a donor trailer with extremely poor interior, holes in floors, all appliances and furniture destroyed. Shell is intact with no dents. Owner wants $2000 for the trailer. The title has issues and I'm currently waiting for the title issues to clear up. Is it worth the $2000 to buy used panels with holes in them?
I'm a newbie here so take that into account. It's easier to put a whole new endcap inside and out than rebuild piece by piece in your case. Have you checked for structural damage to the frame? Also I would price out new whole ends from places like inland
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Old 06-23-2015, 08:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgjurina View Post
I have found a donor trailer with extremely poor interior, holes in floors, all appliances and furniture destroyed. Shell is intact with no dents. Owner wants $2000 for the trailer. The title has issues and I'm currently waiting for the title issues to clear up. Is it worth the $2000 to buy used panels with holes in them?
I routinely see 70's era trailers that are in poor condition that go for less than $2k, so I wouldn't say your donor is exactly a steal. On the other hand, buying 5 segments new at roughly $500 apiece (parts and shipping) is going to put you over $2k. If you go the donor trailer route, I would remove the entire front end as a single section, rather than disassembling each segment. Yes, you are bound to find that the existing holes in you trailer are not going to match up with the holes in the donor parts. There are some techniques used to deal with this (ie., putting a "doubler" on the inside so that the rivets are guaranteed to have something to bite).

Do you have any floor rot (especially in the rear) of your trailer?

Good luck!
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Old 06-24-2015, 11:49 AM   #14
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Here is a classified, and it looks like the guy has an entire front end, already separated from the trailer!

1976 31' Salvage Parts
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