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Old 06-10-2008, 08:18 PM   #1
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1958 26' Overlander
1991 29' Excella
auburn , Alabama
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Help on '57 Overlander

Just was given an old airstream by my inlaws. It has been sitting for 40 years Can someone tell me the tire size/ and wheel size. It has quite a bit of rust on the frame and wheels. My plan is to buy some tires/wheels for it, go down and check/clean bearings and try to haul it home (175 mi). I will try to reduce the weight as much as possible. Filled with junk and my guess has some floor rot. Thanks in advice for your help. Not sure about the year, just going by pics. "all of us are ignorant, just about different things." Will Rogers
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:25 PM   #2
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1958 26' Overlander
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Based on the number of panels on the end caps I would say your trailer is more likely a 58 or perhaps 59 year model. I believe the 57's were the last year for 13 panels on the end caps. Yours I believe is 7. As far as wheels it is probably 5 bolt pattern and may be an unusual tire size ? 14.5" . I have a 58 cruiser/overlander but have replaced my running gear with newer axles/wheels/tires. Perhaps others can help. If not I may be able to dig back through some of my old info. Ed
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Old 03-07-2009, 07:30 AM   #3
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1958 26' Overlander
1991 29' Excella
auburn , Alabama
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Talking 58 Overlander

My last post was 9 months ago. I have done my best to talk myself out of this project but to no avail. In my 63 years I have restored a couple of cars, the last a british land rover, a 31 bertram sport fishing boat, a 51 cessna 170, a Couple of motorcycles, (bmw gspd airhead, and R1100S), all with a lot of help with the smart stuff. I have gotten rid of most of these restorations and a ridiculous loss of time and money. Only the plane did I get my investment back. "There is a pleasure in being MAD that only MADMEN know". I have looked at a couple of airstreams for sale that were in better shape, all vintage, but all would need at least a belly pan drop and floor work. My thoughts were if I have to go to that trouble might as well just bite the bullet and go get this free (what a joke) Overlander. When my mother in law was told by my wife that all I wanted from her stuff was the airstream trailer, she said "is he crazy". The answer to that is absolutely. I have been down to see the Overlander twice since june. . The frame runner supports to the hitch are both rusted thru on the bottom till it goes into the belly pan, looks pretty good under the belly pan. All exposed parts of the frame are rotted, Bumper is non repairable from rust. When you glimpse the parts you can see covered by the bellypan the frame looks pretty good.It is a couple of miles off the water in Panama City,Florida and has been exposed to salt air for the last 40 years. I need to get this airstream to my house 200 miles away to start work on it. I really dont want to fool with getting the frame fixed where is as I have so much work to do on it before the frame can be addressed in stripping it of the interior. I also dont want to fool with new tires and bearing work on axles I think I am going to replace. I thought about putting this on a larger trailer and bringing it home that way. Has anyone done this??? From the look of some of the frames repaired on this site I think my frame will be repairable and I have an excellent local welder who is a friend and can do the job well. Any advice would be appreciated. A good psychologist referral might be even more helpful. BTW I found an unadvertised 72 Globetrotter in traileralbe and useable condition for 3k locally that is not advertised. I can send some pics and contact info if anyone is interested. For my needs, wanting a reliable trailer to take across country, I would want to take it apart and look at the frame, but from what I saw I would trailer if a couple of hundred miles. Regards and thanks in advance for any advice. david
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Old 03-07-2009, 07:48 AM   #4
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Hi David, and welcome (back) to the Forums.

It is quite common to flat-bed these trailers home when you need to recover them and don't trust their running gear or frame condition, several folks on the Forums have done it. Do you listen to The VAP (Vintage Airstream Podcast)? If you like vintage Airstreams, you should. I'm asking because one of the panel pros, Rob Baker, just helped a friend recover his trailer when the axle broke. He talks about it on his blog here: Rob Baker's Sweet Sovereign Of The Road. Check the February 21st blog entry for some details on how they flat-bedded his friend's trailer.

You have an impressive list of restoration projects under your belt, and you obviously understand how unlikely it is to recover your investment in time and money bringing one of these back from the near-death. The only reason to do it is to provide a trailer for yourself and your family that is exactly the way you want it.

And because Airstreams look so darn cool.

From the pictures, this one COULD be a '57 ('57 was a transitional year, some had 13-panel endcaps, and others had the 7-segment endcaps that this one displays), or it could be a '58 or '59 I believe. There is a really valuable archive for images of various vintage units kept here: http://www.vintageairstream.com/archives/index.html . Take a look at the 26' section for the years '57-'59, and you'll see many examples of other trailers like this one. If the interior or exterior have been modified, these archives are a great resource to figure out what it might have originally looked like.

Whatever you decide, good luck-- you will find all of the information and support you need here on the Forums. There are people here who have done what you are considering, and they've done it with trailers that were in the same or perhaps even worse condition.

Being so close to the ocean for so many years, I'd DEFINITELY be concerned over the condition of the mild steel frame. If the present owner will allow it, you might consider peeling away some of the bellypan to get a better look at it, before you ever move it.

Good luck, and please let us know how it goes.

-Marcus
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:03 AM   #5
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Navyeod,

Welcome to the forums. I think you made a very wise decision by getting the Airstream that's been in your family so long & the the fact it's free. Since It's in Panama City I would try to tow it a local RV repair center or marine repair shop that works on boat trailers. I would think the price may be high to flat bed the AS 200 miles, but you are starting out at $0 and it may be the safest option. Good luck.
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:19 AM   #6
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Lawrenceville , Georgia
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Wow!

The best thing about your trailer is you have the same situation I have. Not much money in the front end. What is the serial #. That will help more than anything about identifying what you have. It will be beautiful in the end. There have been many situations where people have drug a trailer onto a flatbed to take home. Please , before you move it take as many pics (as you can stand) as it sits inside and out for your records and our pleasure! I took some but I wish I had more. Also try to get some of the actual loading or pulling out. Careful of snakes under it and in it. My friend was given a car that had sat in a field and when he pulled it in our shop and was working under the dash he was bitten by a copperhead that had taken up residence under the front seat. I will be down in PC in about two weeks working if you want to meet for another humble opinion of your new beauty.
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Old 03-07-2009, 11:36 AM   #7
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1958 26' Overlander
1991 29' Excella
auburn , Alabama
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57-59 Overlander

Thanks much for the replies. Marcus those are great links. Lewis let me know when you are going to be in Panama City and I will see if I can get down there and show the AS to you. Got a fellow who has a much better 63 overlander who is interested in a partial trade. Is there much diff in the models. His at least looks like it has a good frame and it has the benefit of a tandem axle. I may just try to get some wheels for the 57 grease the bearings and lighten the trailer as much as possible and try to haul it. I will have to get a better look at the frame to decide. May just need some temp supports on the front of the frame. Looks like 14.5 Mobile home wheels on it, will they fit??? I can get the trailer home on back roads without use of the interstate. Any ideas on the cost of a new frame and dual axles. david
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:37 PM   #8
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I don't think I'd try to add a 2nd axle, although people probably have in the past. That would require extensive body work and new wheel wells, in addition to the frame work.

The models between '58--'63 are fairly similar. I believe the tandem axles became standard on the Overlanders in '60 or '61 maybe? My '63 has tandem, which was one of my most important criteria when I was looking for mine. I much prefer the stability, tracking, ease of towing, and failure redundancy associated with double axles over single. You can take a look at those archive photos to see other differences between the model years. All of them from '58-'63 have the door-within-a-door, and in '60 I think they introduced those louvered windows next to the door, called "jalousie" windows, which are another feature that I love about the '60-'63 models, although some folks don't like them as much.

The trailer might have 14.5" wheels, Rob Baker's '58 Sovereign does. My '63 has 15" wheels which was pretty standard I think from the early 60s, and even up to present times.

-Marcus
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:05 PM   #9
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1958 26' Overlander
1991 29' Excella
auburn , Alabama
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Posts: 120
63 Overlander

Marcus you are making me lean toward this trade. I really like the idea of a tandem axle. Do you still have the dual electrics 12v and 110 on yours or did you convert to a converter??. I would love to see some pics of yours to show my wife what a finished product looks like. I am going to go by and see the 63 tomorrow afternoon. I will send some pics of the 63. david
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:01 PM   #10
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1963 24' Tradewind
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I dunno - there is a thread here somewhere where a 28ft single axle Ambassador was redone with a new torflex axle.. I think the owners are happy with it. Single axles will give you more interior options (and lighter weight) too. Search "IKE" and the long thread will show up. Towards the end of the thread is the axle replacement.
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:04 PM   #11
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Here it is..
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f92/...-37379-19.html
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navyeod View Post
Marcus you are making me lean toward this trade. I really like the idea of a tandem axle. Do you still have the dual electrics 12v and 110 on yours or did you convert to a converter??. I would love to see some pics of yours to show my wife what a finished product looks like. I am going to go by and see the 63 tomorrow afternoon. I will send some pics of the 63. david
Your limited to 5000 pounds with a single axle.

The biggest problem with a single axle trailer that length, as Airstream found out the hard way, is that it will take the rear end of your tow vehicle and move it vertically, everytime you hit a bump.

It can at times, become a violent movement, and cause a loss of control.

Converting to tandem, can be done.

If you do not wish to make the axle change, then I would use the Airstream as a cabin, and not travel with it, or trade it.

In the early 70's, Airstream tried it again, with a 23 foot trailer. They again learned that was a no no as well.

They then changed the 23 footer to a tandem, for safety reasons.

Andy
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by navyeod View Post
Marcus you are making me lean toward this trade. I really like the idea of a tandem axle. Do you still have the dual electrics 12v and 110 on yours or did you convert to a converter??. david
David,

I added a converter to my '61 Overlander. It did not change the 110v/12v system(they are completely separate). I wired it into the 110 under the sink and used to 110 that was for the furnace-I was also replacing the furnace with a new 12v only furnace, I did not trust a 47 year old furnance. The converter charges the battery all the time when I'm hooked into 110, that way I can run any 12v item-stove vent fan, roof fan(by the PO), and furnace, because all of these items have been replace & only work with my 12v. None of these item work off the old 110/12v individual transformers because they've been replaced.

I found that without the converter, my battery power did not last very long.

There are some forums members here that have had good luck with their old transformers on these three items with this 110v/12v system-but I have not.
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Old 03-07-2009, 06:42 PM   #14
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1958 26' Overlander
1991 29' Excella
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Smile Overlander

What a resource this forum is. You guys have given me a lot to digest. I so appreciate all your expertise. I will keep you posted on the decision. God Bless you all for your help. david
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