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Old 01-15-2008, 11:57 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
St. Marys , Ontario
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31' '73 Sovereign - Where to begin?

Just bought my first Airstream! I have a narrow time frame (6 weeks) to get this trailer ready for the summer season, during which I will be fulltiming. I am lucky enough to be able to devote almost all of my time to getting it ready, and have the benefit of a handi-man father who is also willing to make this project a priority.
My question is: Where do I begin? It looks to me that the windows have been leaking because the floors are wet under them, I haven't checked the plumbing at all, and the interior could use some "modernization" and serious cleaning. All this and I haven't even talked about the peeling clearcoat, nor looked at the undercarriage (although I won't be covering a ton of miles right away)... On a good note, I checked for rear-end separation and it didn't look too bad, and besides the clearcoat the shell looks really good.
Hopefully the pictures can aid some of you experts in guiding me as to where to spend most of my time now, and what can wait until next winter.
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Old 01-16-2008, 12:29 AM   #2
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Start with the leaks

First thing, fix the leaks and get that floor dried out. If you have rot or dry-rot that portion of the floor must be replaced.
If you merely have "weathering" due to the water, there is an easy way to repair that.

The wood must be dry....Use five minute epoxy that comes in the double tubes. Empty the tubes in a paper bowl. Pour in about two "glugs" of denatured alcohol and stir the mixture well. It will be thin like water. Pour it over the "weathered" area. It will soak in quite nicely. The alcohol will evaporate, then the epoxy will get hard. The next day the area can be sanded and finished as you wish.

One of those double tubes will do about 6" x 8". It doesn't go very far, but is much easier than other methods.

I used this little trick on the floor inside the door in our Caravel. I think it took three tubes. It works.

Remember,....This is for weather checked areas ONLY.

NOT for ROT.
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Old 01-16-2008, 05:11 AM   #3
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1977 31' Sovereign
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With that much water damage I would use fiberglass cloth and resin and do the whole floor.

But where there is dry rot, which you can test for after it's completly dried out, you will need to replace parts of the floor.

I would also drop the belly pans all the pink insulation is likely soaked and will need to be removed.

You can then look for any frame rust.

If it were mine I would remove as much of the interior as I could to get to it all.

The floor and all this will take 2-4 weeks.
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Old 01-16-2008, 05:29 AM   #4
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First, and most important, remember to breathe

No doubt you will get information overload with answers to your question

My $.02

Personal safety first, trailer safety second, all the rest are details:
1.propane
2.electricity
3.brakes, axles, tires, and hitch
4.running lights

As far as the floor, wish I tried that thinned out epoxy trick. I didn't but it sounds like it may be worth a try. There are several (more expensive) penetrating epoxy resin products out there that will restore punky wood but rotten wood will have to go. I used a product called Rot Doctor or something like that with real good results.
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Old 01-16-2008, 05:51 AM   #5
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Be sure to check inside the rear storage compartment for more rot...almost every Airstream of this era has problems there. The other areas are pretty typical as well.

I agree with Lumatic that your axles are most likely shot. (I know, does the good news ever stop!?!).

Congrats and good luck with your new find!
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:37 AM   #6
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1993 21' Sovereign
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I noticed in the photo of the rear window, there seems to be "spots" above the rear window, probably where an awning ws attached. Are those holes, or is there something in them? If they have something in them, you should probably dab something on them to make sure they don't leak water.
Our Sovereign had water in the rear compartment floor, and you can't see it unless you remove the aluminum cover so you can see the floor. This is the usual cause of the rear sag in that year trailer.
The other spots of wet wood are usual for that model, and need to be taken care of soon. If the floor has started to get soft in those areas, you can get some Rot Doctor to stabilise it.
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:20 AM   #7
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Several weeks ahead of you

I joined this forum seveal weeks ago and it has been very helpful. I am not a seasoned talented mechanic or an experienced RV restorer. This has been a real learning experience for me and my wife. At first we were disappointed that we had challenging problems, but this has turned into a very fun project that we both as a married couple are enjoying doing together. We are into it! The information in here has me way ahead of my projected schedule. I am trying to get ready for the vacation season. I am going to and I suspect you will have to replace parts. I am making a big list and then I plan on ordering all the stuff at once. Here is my project. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ion-38204.html

I will say things I have used. Abatron wood epoxy. Great for small dry rot spots. I tore the bathroom apart and I am doing the whole back end. I suspect that is where you need to go first. I also took my stove top and had it powder coated. I bought a new converter (30 amp) and took the univolt fuse box and had that added to it. Everything I have done is already has been done by these very knowledgable and talented people in this forum.
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Old 01-19-2008, 11:46 PM   #8
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Update...

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for there advice, it gave us some great ideas about where to focus our efforts.
After a few solid days of work I have to say I am pleasently surprised with the trailer. The floor has dried up quite well, the pictures were taken after a week of rain and melting snow. Removed much of the inner furniture and only found a couple of very small rotten spots. We scraped out anything we could and filled with epoxy body filler with fiberglass in it. The other spots we will try the thinned out epoxy trick. The rear storage only had about an inch of rot right at the back edge, otherwise looked dry. We removed some of the inner skin pieces, and it was dry.
The propane was checked at the dealership before the sale was completed and we will check the electrical this week. along with finding and sealing the leaks.
I have a question about the axels, and I think I know what the answer will be... With the weight lifted off the wheels, the arm off the axel is in the "neutral" position. When we jack from the hub to check the travel in the axel there is a couple inches of travel, will this suffice, or is it time to get new axels?
I will post some updated pictures within the next few days...
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Old 01-19-2008, 11:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenApple
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for there advice, it gave us some great ideas about where to focus our efforts.
After a few solid days of work I have to say I am pleasently surprised with the trailer. The floor has dried up quite well, the pictures were taken after a week of rain and melting snow. Removed much of the inner furniture and only found a couple of very small rotten spots. We scraped out anything we could and filled with epoxy body filler with fiberglass in it. The other spots we will try the thinned out epoxy trick. The rear storage only had about an inch of rot right at the back edge, otherwise looked dry. We removed some of the inner skin pieces, and it was dry.
The propane was checked at the dealership before the sale was completed and we will check the electrical this week. along with finding and sealing the leaks.
I have a question about the axels, and I think I know what the answer will be... With the weight lifted off the wheels, the arm off the axel is in the "neutral" position. When we jack from the hub to check the travel in the axel there is a couple inches of travel, will this suffice, or is it time to get new axels?
I will post some updated pictures within the next few days...
The torsion arm, as it goes rearward, should have a downward angle of about 10 degrees, with the trailer loaded and the tires on the ground.

If the torsion arm angle is zero, with no weight on the tires, then the axles are finished.

If you traveled with them, the trailer will bottom out everytime you hit a bump.

Andy
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Old 01-20-2008, 01:12 AM   #10
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wet spots on floor

I too have discovered floor problems in my 88 limited. Some were so bad I replaced with marine plywood. I have some very small areas that are wet, but solid when smacked with a hammer. Some of you mentioned a product called rot doctor, where do you get this?

Regards,

Reganzo
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Old 01-20-2008, 06:02 AM   #11
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Here's the link to some stuff I used on a boat transom. CPES by Rot Doctor

It's not cheap...

I like Jim's idea and even wonder if you couldn't use just regular epoxy (Evercoat, or the like) and thin it with acetone so that it penetrates the wood.
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Old 01-20-2008, 07:51 AM   #12
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1993 21' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reganzo
Some of you mentioned a product called rot doctor, where do you get this?

Regards,

Reganzo
I got Rot Doctor for our floor at West Marine. Most "big box" boat stores will have it. If you wind up with a salesperson like the one I was saddled with, it is usually carried in the paint aisle.
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