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Old 09-15-2004, 08:34 PM   #1
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It's gutted, now what?

I have a 1972 Ambassador that I have had to remove most of the interior of due to rodent damage, and general disrepair. I'm not looking for a full restoration. i would like to redo the interio to be as comfortable, useable and durable as possible.

I am considering taking off the walls and replacing the insulation, as the interior smells like rodents.

Here are pictures: [no longer available]

Thanks for any advice!


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Old 09-15-2004, 08:47 PM   #2
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1963 24' Tradewind
Highland , Illinois
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Look at what Ron & Tony have done at [no longer available]

They came up with some really neat ideas for the same issues you are having.


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Old 09-15-2004, 08:48 PM   #3
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Sorry, I forgot to welcome you to the fourms!
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Old 09-15-2004, 09:10 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forums Caroline.

The photo's don't look so awful as you think. There are a lot of folks here that are full of ideas to help you out, and the best part is that they all are willing to say something to help you.

The hitch don't look like it needs to be replaced, but it needs to be cleaned, sanded, hit with a rust inhibitor, and repainted. The stove top can be refinished, but I advise that you have that done professionally. If your bathtub is shody looking after you clean it up you can have that refinished by a professional too.
You can do a search for the doors for the cabinets on ebay or if your willing you can make them yourself. I can tell you how to do that if you're interested.

Maybe someone else will pipe in to tell you about the other things that you need help with.

Good Luck!
Just adding my 2¢ worth

John G
1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 09-16-2004, 06:48 AM   #5
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1967 26' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
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Hi Caroline,

Welcome to the forums. I think the first thing you need to do is establish a general dollar amount you want to spend at this time. You’ll probably exceed it, but ya got to start somewhere.

Several times you mentioned replacing items. That’s fine, and it is certainly the easiest way to go. But ovens, cooktops, and refrigerators for RVs are expensive. Check prices at and you will see. Although it will take considerably more time, you may want to clean up everything as well as possible, and replace them later if you so desire. I did not replace any of my major appliances even though my Overlander had sat for 23 years before I got it. But I am fortunate in that I am comfortable working on gas appliances. Most people on this forum are not, and will advise you to replace any faulty appliances.

Air conditioner: The rats may have chewed on the wiring, but since your Airstream sat in covered storage, there is a good chance the major components are okay. RV air conditioners are usually R-22 units, which means the same person who works on your home A/C can work on your Airstream’s A/C. You may have trouble finding someone who wants to hang off a ladder to do it, but check around. Get him to determine if the compressor still works. If it does, ask him for an estimate on returning the unit to nominal operation, and compare his estimate to the cost of a new one.

Refrigerator: Excellent chance it still works – mine did. If it is a true RV unit, it should run on either gas or 120 vac electricity. It is perhaps the most expensive aspect of your Airstream (~$1100 ).

LPG Tanks: They look fine, but there’s a good chance they do not have the new style OPD valves. They will work fine without them, but it is illegal to refill tanks without the new valves . Do a forum search on “OPD valve” to gain more insight.

Hitch coupler: Looks rusty, but sound. Of more importance is the condition of the metal box-beams that run from it to the Airstream itself. Wirebrush or sandblast all the metal parts before deciding if anything more than a coat of paint is in order .

Cooktop: Although presently an eyesore, I would be greatly surprised if it did not work. Clean it up with a Brillo pad, and decide if the pitted areas bother you enough to replace it at this time (mine did not).

You also have a furnace, a water heater, and a gas regulator. My furnace was okay, but the regulator was not. Again, most people will advise you to replace them. Your call.

As far as the smell goes, there’s a good chance that it can be eliminated by installing new carpeting (I could not tell what kind of floor covering you have). Pull out the carpeting first, let your project air out for a time, and see if the smell is still bad enough to replace the insulation. If nothing else, pulling out the carpet allows you to locate & correct any bad places in the floor. Unfortunately, you will probably some .

Again, start with a rough goal of how much money you want to spend right now, check prices, and go from there.

Good luck,
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Old 09-16-2004, 07:09 AM   #6
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Atlanta , Georgia
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Now What?

Mental evaluation by trained professional.

Welcome to the Forum!
1959 22' Caravanner
1988 R20 454 Suburban.
Atlanta, GA
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Old 09-16-2004, 09:12 AM   #7
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Putnam , Connecticut
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Bleach everything. Cup of bleach in your garden sprayer. Satutate spray close it up and get out, let it sit for a day. This is essential if you are in the southwest. You shouldn't even be in there without doing this. Clean it up and do it again. Always spray nest areas before disturbing. Sorry to say but the walls had / have nests as well as ants depending on where you live. A bug bomb or two gets rid of alot of non paying guests. If you have carpet it's got to go. Then spray the floor. With everything out and a good drying day take a power washer to the inside, vacuum up the water, put some fans in it with the windows and doors open. After three times of bleach and power washing my 59 smells fresh. You might want to use tsp or a tsp alternative to clean walls and floor and shower and stove. In other word the first job is to make it as cleaned up as you can. Only then will you know what the condition of things is. I think you will find it a more pleasure space to work with and spend thinking time in. Beware, you are very close to caugthing the floor replacement illness for which beach is no cure, only a new por 15 coated frame and new floor works, and then only until you find another AS.
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Old 09-16-2004, 11:13 AM   #8
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1961 26' Overlander
Gabriola Island , British Columbia
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My '61 had a very strong rodent smell right up until I removed the last ceiling panel.The managed to get everywhere in the shell of the trailer.I would reccommend removing all the interior and replacing insulation,not just for rodent smell but also for mold.Wear a mask and disposable coveralls and wet down any feces you find with bleach.
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Old 09-16-2004, 12:38 PM   #9
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1973 31' Sovereign
Portland , Oregon
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Check under the floor...

If you have had rodent infestations in the AS then you very likely have had them under the floor too. This area is perhaps even easier for them to access than the interior is. It also has this nice fuffy fiberglass insulation for making nests. Some of the oder you are getting now may very well be coming from down below. There are various openings from the under floor area to the main living level that will let the oders in (and the rodents too). I suggest you carefully remove the belly pan (the bottom panels) and bananna wrap (the curved panels from the bottom of the sides to edge of the belly pan). You do not have to detach the bananna wrap around the outside - you can let it hang down so you can see up into these areas. This is all held on with rivits that you can drill out. Any stuborn ones you can chop off with a straight type paint scraper (like a putty knife but thicker) and a hammer. Be sure to wear protective clothing and a mask if you truly expect rodent infestation. With the bottom open you can better asses the condition of the frame and the floor plywood.

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Old 09-16-2004, 12:51 PM   #10
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Yours is not as gutted as mine was...

Your AS actually looks like it is pretty good shape considering. My 1973 was a lot more gutted than yours. I have had to take out the little that remained of the interior and I am having to face rebuilding the entire interior from scratch. I have not yet made up my mind if that is easier or harder than the level of restore you are faced with. Take a look at my photo gallery and especially the photo labled "Before #11" to get a better idea of what it was like. The one called "Remove_floor_01" gives you a better idea of what I have had to go through in the process of getting it ready to put it back together. That view is really gutted. So be encouraged - it looks like you have a lot to work with. The body looks to be in great shape too.

By the way welcome to the forums. I wish I had discovered the forums before I bought my AS rather than after. In any case I can attest to the fact that the forums have a wealth of restoration information. Ask any questions you want and someone is likely to have the answer. Take advantage of the search feature and look for key words of interest for starters.


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