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Old 10-29-2013, 10:35 PM   #43
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So one other question - other than jumping up and down on the back - how can I check to see if the frame is in good condition. I assume this airstream still has a belly pan.
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:32 PM   #44
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Run away, don't look back.

The Military Wife's primary command "don't bring home anything we cant eat or play with" springs to mind, hidden in something that neglected surely are molds and allergens that will warp the future. You have a family now, eh? This is a cool project image you have in mind but unless you are ten men you're going to be a lab rat trying to gnaw your way out of that.

Pass on it - keep saving money and there WILL be another one...
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:09 PM   #45
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I get it Wabbit....but I am looking for a long term project...
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:18 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by pckeen View Post
So one other question - other than jumping up and down on the back - how can I check to see if the frame is in good condition. I assume this airstream still has a belly pan.
That's the problem, you can't ! Look for ripples in the outside skin, outriggers poking thru the bellypan, but that would be extensive damage. Unless they allow you to remove a section of the belly pan.... Honestly the skin condition is of primary importance. If you see evidence of perimeter rot there will be frame damage. As long as you can commit to a shell off, the skin is the only thing you need to assess, frames are repairable in most cases.
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Old 10-31-2013, 12:52 AM   #47
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I'm saying this in the most sober and paternal way possible, find another project. You can't grasp the thousand reasonable differences a polite & hygienic trailer project has as advantages and you're deflecting honest interest in YOU, not the freaking pile of junk in the pictures...

Even if you've already spent the money DUMP it and find a better candidate to make your long term project. Discretion is the better part of valor, pick and choose your battles, the neglect and abuse that hulk has suffered is a crime but YOU do not have to make it your (and by proximity your families) cause.

Read between the lines... unless you are ten men and willing to kill off nine of them...
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:01 AM   #48
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pckeen - What the Wabbit said for sure. Plus, the amount of $$$ it will take to get that hunk campable will take your breath away. That poor trailer has been ridden hard & put up wet (you'll only get that one if you've ever owned horses) and in my opinion is beyond repair. Find another project - there are plenty of them out there. You & your friends & family of helpers will be very glad you did.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:59 AM   #49
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Ditto above. I feel like I'm a very accomplished do it yourselfer. I've remodeled houses, built furniture, designed machinery, own a intellectual patent, and have engineered some pretty crazy stuff.

However the Airstream has been a unique challenge for me, and I got one that was completely intact. Everything was there, and most of it is in working order, and with 2 kids (and a job, and beekeeping, gardening, and other stuff) I still haven't finished.

I'm in the middle of custom building my own gray and black tanks. I would HIGHLY suggest forking over an extra $2-5,000 more for your first project to get one in good shape. I got an almost perfect one, for an amazing price, and I've since put in about $5,000 or so. Axles, plumbing, appliances, AC, paint, LED lights, etc.

AND. consider getting 2 disc o bed's for a twin model. We have a 26' Overlander with 2 twins and a front goucho. My plan is to get the Disc o beds, and cut them to fit over our rear twins. My wife would rather sleep with the boys on really cold nights than up next to the window up front. I plan on extending the goucho to make a bigger bed, just haven't gotten there yet.

I would rather have had a dinette though, as I think that's more usable, but it came with a goucho, and I'm keeping as much of mine original as possible. Even though I spent a lot of money on the upholstery for my goucho, I still want to convert it to a dinette. The goucho is great to come in and sit down, and all 4 of us have plenty of room to sit and watch a movie. However, for the rest of the time - eating, playing cards or board games, working at a laptop or writing a letter, it's just miserable. So, I think that dinette's work better for a family. My father had a camper we used with a dinette and it was great. I think the bed can be made bigger with a dinette as well.

But do a search for disc o bed. I think having the option of just setting up a bunk bed when you need it would be really ideal, and it opens up your options.

Save the gutted trailer for your 2nd renovation. It's a lot easier to repair something than create it from scratch. I could have built the cabinets in my trailer, and made them better, but it would have been hard for me to design them without seeing the layout and how they attached to the trailer first.
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Old 10-31-2013, 12:43 PM   #50
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I agree that redoing an entire trailer is a huge job - I've been working on our Sovereign for almost five years - but let's not forget what pckeen's goal was:
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I want to do a restoration because I'm looking for a long term project, and the reality is that once I'm done I'll have a trailer that will be better than what I could buy new. When I say restoration, I'm talking gutting the entire trailer, and rebuilding from the frame up (so new electrics, new appliances, rebuilding or replacing counters/shelving/beds/upholstery, etc.). My assumption was that I am looking at a one to three year project.

In terms of new vs. old, I would reuse anything that was good on the trailer, with the caveat that when it is complete, I would want it to look and last like new. I build fine furniture, so I have some skills to start out with.

My difficulty right now is I don't know the extent to which I'm ignorant about restoring airstreams - I do know that I want something that is structurally sound.
Yes this will be a big project, but a trailer that looks good on the inside could have just as many problems with the frame, and if he's going to gut the trailer and rebuild the interior why pay extra for a good interior. Someone who wants the interior to look like new is unlikely to be reusing the interior of a 70's trailer - I didn't reuse anything from the interior of our '74, not even the wiring. Other than the shell and frame (which needed some repair) I think the water heater and furnace were the only things we reused, and that was because they had been recently replaced when we bought it.

I think with what he's planning it's the shell and the price that are most important, then the condition of the frame.

PK, sorry to talk about you in the third person in your own thread. (-:
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:08 PM   #51
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Hi pckeen,

I'm with Davidson. This is certainly a project, but you have a clean slate for the interior and gutting the trailer to that stage has saved you a lot of work.

I think when many people consider renovating an Airstream they are looking at returning it to factory condition...nearly impossible in this case, but I don't think that is what you want to do.

The dented front panel is a flat sheet of aluminum...easy to replace.

It looks like most of the interior panels are there and could be reused or used as templates.

It won't be cheap, but the renovation to my 68 Globetrotter was a lot of fun and I have a custom trailer with no hidden surprises to bite me later on.

Plan on a year or two of mind expanding work...nothing is straight or square...and have fun!
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:12 PM   #52
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Thanks for the comments - both the "Run Forrest Run" variety, and those of the "Once more unto the breach dear friends" genre as well.

I'm in the lucky situation of being able to buy when I want, and can wait to get the price I want, so if this doesn't pan out when I look at it, then c'est la vie. I have a line on another 31 footer in the states, which is in better condition, and is well priced, so I'll be checking that out as well.

The main thing I'm concerned about this trailer is the missing end cap. Curious to see whether that hunk of metal sitting outside the trailer was the end cap.

Quote:
consider getting 2 disc o bed's for a twin model. We have a 26' Overlander with 2 twins and a front goucho.
Thanks - I took a look at these online. I'd be really interested in seeing how you did this. I've been trying to work out how to fit in two sets of twin bunks in these old 31 footers. Difficult given the location of the windows.

Quote:
Plus, the amount of $$$ it will take to get that hunk campable will take your breath away.
My assumption was $8-$15k, assuming I do all the fabrication myself.

Quote:
it looks like there's a dent under the front window on the street side, or is that just a reflection?
Is it any more difficult getting dents out of an airstream exterior skin than out of a car body?

Quote:
New aluminum interior panels aren't a big deal, the end cap fabrication would be more difficult.
I think this would end up being a deal breaker for me - I should be able to fabricate everything else, but this.... Many thanks for the comments on this part to you and DavidsonO
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:42 PM   #53
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C'est la vie is certainly the right attitude. There are more out there.

I can give you my opinion on 3 out of 4.

I think your cost estimate is correct.

Removing dent from aluminum is waaay harder than steel. Aluminum stretches when dented just like steel but unlike steel you can't heat shrink it. The dent in your photo could push out and be OK but replacing that panel would not be a big deal.

As a furniture maker you have the skills to make plywood end caps in whatever species you prefer. I built them for my trailer and while they were difficult and challenging, they are spectacular and I only had to recut 2 panels

Good luck with your project even if this isn't the trailer for you!
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:49 PM   #54
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I built them for my trailer and while they were difficult and challenging, they are spectacular and I only had to recut 2 panels
If I pick this up, I'll be sending you a few.....hundred? pms.
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:16 PM   #55
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The dent in your photo could push out and be OK but replacing that panel would not be a big deal.
Does that panel have a compound curve on a 1970 model? It does on a '74. It's not obvious at first glance, but (on a '74) it can't be replaced by a flat sheet of aluminum.

Grant
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:14 PM   #56
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Hi, OK - so I've been away for a while, but surfing craigslist and kijiji for a while. This airstream has come up locally. It is described as a "1970 Airstream International 31'". If they have the year right, it is a Sovereign. In asking them about this, they advise that they started this as a restoration project. They regard this as gutted, but from what I can tell, there is still a fair bit of gutting to do. They advise this is towable, doesn't leak, but the floor where the bathroom needs 'a little bit' of welding. I'm interested in a shell off restoration, and completely rebuilding an interior, replacing the insulation etc. so this seems to meet the bill. My aim is to build something custom, as I cannot find the layout I need in an airstream of that era. In reviewing the photos, my main concern is that if the interior aluminum panelling has been removed, then I will be looking at fabricating new aluminumpanels. I'm not sure I want to do that. So what red flags does this raise for you? What is a reasonable price for this in your view? Here are some pics.
You can install the interior aluminum without having to fabricate compound curves. I did my interior panels myself without any special tools other than a hand shear, drill, rivet gun, and a lot of patience. Others have done this too. To make a compound curve, you can just do a bunch of overlapping strips that only bend in one direction. The end result looks really cool and is pretty efficient with aluminum.
Tim
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