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Old 09-22-2013, 12:33 AM   #1
U.S. Army Retired
 
1976 31' Sovereign
Graham , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 7
'76 Sovereign Rebuild

Hello all!!

We've had the (new to us) '76 Sovereign (31' w/rear bath & mid-queen bed) behind our house for a couple of weeks now and this is the first chance we've had to start taking it apart to 1) assess the damage, and 2) fix what we could on the fly (and the cheap - if there is such a thing with Airstream Trailers!!).

I have not done any electrical troubleshooting - I'm not saying there are any electrical problems, except for a shorted battery. No surprise.

Putting the cart before the horse, I've made a tentative appointment to have some new laminate flooring installed. I asked a buddy to come help me get the trailer ready for the new floor and after day 1 of the tear-down I'm not sure I'll be ready. After I took out the front sofa, both table assemblies and carpet I found rotten sub-flooring (see pictures).

After talking about what we found under the sofa we decided to keep going and pretty much gut the trailer. There are too many unknown unknowns under the other fixtures. I already knew the toilet was coming out but I wasn't figuring on gutting the thing.

Here's one of my questions: Has anyone replaced the sub-floors with the belly pan still on and if so, how much of a pain in the @$$ is it and what can I do to mitigate some of the pain?

I have not touched any of the appliances yet, I'm a bit nervous to do this but it seems inevitable. Question 2: any pointers on safely removing all the appliances (new 'fridge, stove/oven, propane heater, etc.)?

Question 3: I know the skylights leak; I watched one of them drip during the rain shower that passed overhead this afternoon. How do I go about fixing this "little" problem? I know this must be accomplished before the new flooring goes in.

Question 4: What is the proper nomenclature of the parts I will need to replace all the window seals, roof vent seals and any other seal/gasket I need to stop any/all water leaks?

Question 5: What is the name of the sealant I need for the exterior skin? I know not to use silicone. Where can I get it, and how much will I need for my 31' dinosaur? I live in the Seattle area (GO SEAHAWKS!!!) so rain is an issue.

I noticed there are copper pipes but I'm not going to worry about them right now; there's a bit much on my plate. The water leaks are my first priority.



Question 6: Am I moving in the right direction?

Question 7: Am I insane?

Question 8: Is there enough beer?

Bonus question: In the process of taking out the mid-bed I noticed that the frame is not as I think it should be. I think the original design is a fold-out like the front sofa but there were aluminum rails riveted to the slides and a sheet of plywood screwed into the rails. It sloped down towards the curb side of the trailer and there was a 2x4 under the box spring to level it out. I want to either get it back to original configuration or make it so a full mattress /box spring fits in there. Any hints?

Okay, I think that's enough for now because one 12-pack is gone. I have not given up hope of camping next spring but it sure would be nice if the trailer was back together.

Thanks for everything!!

Duane and NancyClick image for larger version

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Old 09-22-2013, 11:52 AM   #2
U.S. Army Retired
 
1976 31' Sovereign
Graham , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 7
Correction

I said "skylights" in question #3 but I think the correct term is "vistaview windows."

Anyway, at least one of them leak.

Duane
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:43 PM   #3
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1966 17' Caravel
Newport , North Carolina
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Duane, first dude you are gonna need some serious beer supplies! Okay maybe not that much but not too sure about the spring camp in that airstream. On a positive note you have a lot of great support on these forums and yes some have repaired floors with the belly pan on but you are not there yet. Not trying to scare you but how does the frame look? To answer that you will need to take up part of the floor and those leaks will need to be addressed prior to that or the new floor will be doomed before you start. Sooo break open a cold one and start reading taking notes before any trips to the vintage trailer supply shops. You can do it all it just requires research and a little elbow grease!
Cliff
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:12 PM   #4
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1987 32' Excella
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As part of your reading, look into the frame stiffening kit. The 31-ft with rear bath had had issues with the rear part of the frame bending. One way to tell is by walking along the interior length - do you feel that you are starting to walk downhill when you get past the half-way mark.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:39 PM   #5
U.S. Army Retired
 
1976 31' Sovereign
Graham , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 7
BLKMAGIKCA,

I walk the straight and narrow (only in the trailer) because I know for a fact the previous owners (my dear departed in-laws, may they rest in peace) had the frame repaired. Thanks for looking out for me and please keep the tips coming. Our first planned trip is North of the Border (eh?) in the spring so I am under the gun. My in-laws were very active in the North Cascades unit, and my Mother-in-Law was the President in 1980. They were also active in the B.C. unit during the same time. Nancy and I will be keeping the same WBCCI numbers that her parents had as an homage to their legacy. We are 3rd generation Airstreamers.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
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1976 31' Sovereign
Ball Ground , Georgia
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I took on my 76 with several issues except floor problems. I agree, spend time sealing, don't forget the rubber gaskets under the covers that seal the vent pipe on the roof. This is a big project for someone with mechanical skills and lots of presistance.I enjoyed rebuilding mine for about 16 months but it's a good feeling when It's finished. Let the folks on the forum help you.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:55 PM   #7
U.S. Army Retired
 
1976 31' Sovereign
Graham , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 7
RM66CARAVEL,

My buddy and I were sitting out in the trailer as the rain was falling; we watched the leaks from the vistview's, the front, side and rear windows and as he handed me a cold one we realized the leaks had to be addressed before anything else. We also realized we need to get a good look at the frame before any more decisions were made but then we looked at the clock and realized we were missing the Seahawks game. I do have my priorities. Please keep the tips coming my way, I know enough to be very, very dangerous.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:59 PM   #8
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1976 31' Sovereign
Graham , Washington
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GAT,
16 months you say? Okay, I'm in for the long haul. What did you do to yours?
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Old 09-23-2013, 09:13 AM   #9
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1976 31' Sovereign
Ball Ground , Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2010
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For me the issue was repair that didn't bankrupt me. I made or adapted things and tried to use items not purchased from RV dealers. The hard issues for me.1 stripping and polishing 2 curtains 3 upholster of couch 4 appliances 5 axels I enjoyed the repair as much as using it. Twice a year we have a gathering of 30-40 AS with an open house to see how others have fixed up and resolved issues. Have fun.
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:30 PM   #10
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Graham , Washington
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Damn you Duane, did you sneak some aluminum in that beer you offered me when gutting your silver trailer? Now I have the bug.

Yes, I'm the buddy that has been helping him gut his '76 Sovereign.

Just to update everyone here we have gutted it back to the bathroom. The toilet and vanity next to the toilet have been removed. On the way back we have found some issues with the floor. The is a soft spot at the back corner of the road side wheel well and the floor under the toilet is feeling spongy. One other thing we noticed is that the floor feels like it's sloping down from the road side frame to the edge of the trailer. Is there an outrigger under the floor there? If so then we might have to replace it and if not would it be wise to add one there?

Another thing we found was the shelving over the furnace that housed all the inverter/fuse box and water pump was all busted and being propped up with a few 2x4's placed in the by the PO. It's a wonder it still was working.

Since we have made it that far a few weeks ago we haven't got around to finish the gutting.

We have some pictures of our progress and one I get some time I'll post a few.

Cheers Roger (AKA Duckdodger)
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:08 AM   #11
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Here are a few pictures I took of the inverter/water pump bracket when gutting the trailer:
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Old 11-09-2013, 01:50 AM   #12
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Looks like a heavy brace job! I know that it will look better when you are done and look at the space that you will get back!
Cliff
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Old 11-09-2013, 06:28 AM   #13
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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The main issues with the floor are at the front and back where the main structural attachments are between the shell and frame. If that part of the floor is good then you can patch the rest. Most trailers need the rear floor replaced and the structural attachment to the frame repaired at the rear of the trailer.

Perry
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