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Old 10-19-2008, 01:24 PM   #1
New Member
1979 31' Sovereign
Alton , Illinois
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1
Smile need brakes on my 1979 airstream

Hi all, I am a owner of a 1979 airstream soveriegn. I am trying to get my brake working. I have been going thru the process for a week now as I was not sure why they did not work. This trailor is a controller, vacumn, hydrylic disc brake setup. So far I have been learning how they work and taking all apart and trying to clean and check out what is working and what is not. I have found out that the vacumn hose was broken and not working. I fixed it and then the air was rushing in to the vacumn lines somewhere but still no brakes. I took the brake away valve apart and cleaned it good. Still no brakes. I took the whole booster off of the trailer and cleaned good and took the sync valve off and checked it out. I hooked a battery to it and it clicked but I am not sure if it was working or not. I think maybe it was not since no brakes when I got it back on the trailer. So I cleaned all the calipher and checked the flow of fluid. It never was very good and no pressure to bleed. It seems like there is not enough pressure in the booster to tell. I read about the pressure test to the brake master cylinder but I did not have one so I am at a standstill on the lines. I do know their is one leak and I am getting some new flex hoses to replace two of them on the trailor. Question. Since I am encountering problems getting parts for this system should I try something else or should I get together enough money to try another system. I would appreciate all the help I could get or maybe if someone with parts to replace this system.

Jerry(I hope I am only 1week away from brakes)

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Old 10-19-2008, 03:08 PM   #2
Rivet Master
TomW's Avatar
1967 26' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,930
Images: 2
That's a tough one

Welcome to the forum, Jerry.

You have a really tough problem. Airstream did not use vacuum/hyrdraulic brakes for very many years so solutions/spare parts are hard to come by.

I remember that member davidz71 had a similar setup on his first Airstream. Send him a personal message - he might be able to help.

Member Inland RV Center In is a vendor who specializes in vintage Airstreams, and, IIRC can sell you all the parts you need AND advise you on a course of action.

Good luck,

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Old 10-19-2008, 05:29 PM   #3
Rivet Master
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1978 31' Excella 500
Venice , California
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,061
Here are some scans from the repair literature. You haven't said if you've ever used this set-up. It makes a difference in troubleshooting. The tow vehicle must have manifold vacuum at the rear bumper with a MANDITORY checkvalve installed near the engine manifold. In normal operation, air is ported in under the diaphragm to active the brake which is just a simple master cylinder and caliper set-up. Both the Master cylinder and the calipers can be rebuilt if they leak. Stuck valves and leaky hoses are the most likely culprits, then holes in the canister and reserve tank if they have rusted through.
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"Not all who are laundering are washed" say Bill & Heidi

'78 Excella 500,"The Silver Pullit". vacuum over hydraulic disc brakes, center bath, rear twin. '67 Travelall 1200 B 4X4 WBCCI 3737
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Old 10-19-2008, 05:57 PM   #4
Rivet Master
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,435
Images: 292
Welcome to the Forum

Congrats on a great trailer.....

As you already have found out - there may be lots and lots of hidden repairs - depending on how far you want to go and how you plan on using the trailer.....

If you plan to tow a good bit, for a 30 plus year old trailer, prior to getting on the road, may I suggest you do a search on axles, the axle replacement procedure, and the importance of inspecting the entire interior floor/frame/shell interface. Unfortunately, a good inspection requires the dropping of the front and rear belly pans and the removal of a goodly amount of the interior. The point of looking at an axle replacement right now is that there is a definite economic benefit to ordering new hub and brake assemblies when replacing the axles as opposed to a total rebuild purchasing individual brake parts. There is no doubt that hydraulic discs are better than electric shoes, just be aware that there are options.

I surely do not mean to take away from your enthusiasm at this point, just pointing out some issues you may want to tackle sooner rather than later, especially if you are anticipating putting some big bucks and long hours into a 30 year old brake system.

Good luck on whatever course of action you take - the Forums are a wealth of information - take your time and take advantage of everyone who has gone before you down the treacherous road of rebuilding vintage Airstreams.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

WBCCI # 1113
AirForums #1737

Trailer '78 31' Sovereign

Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.
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