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Old 05-01-2013, 11:58 AM   #1
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Need Help: Where To Begin

I have posted before my situation. Hopefully I can get some advice and help. My uncle recently died and left me his beloved Airstream trailer. It is a 1978 31' Sovereign. I am a 42 yo mom with NO carpentry skill, but I want to totally refurbish it. It has become my obsession this last month. I have taken almost everything out of the inside except the bathroom and two interior walls. I have also had local tire place replace tires and inspect axel. They say it is fine. Now, I am not sure what to do next. I have called several people to I inspect the trailer for me with no luck. I just need someone to tell me what needs to be done and where to start. I have read thread after thread about whether to take shell on or off, whether to drop pan or not drop pan. It sounds doable, but then I look around and see gas lines and electrical wires and I am just not sure. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it or am I just going to have to load up and head to Jackson City?
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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Inspect the floor for rotten areas first. If any are found you can epoxy them, or replace the plywood. Thne determine where the leak is coming from and seal that.
Are you remodeling the inside? Any reason not to reuse what was in there? It would be a whole lot easier than trying to recreate what is needed. You may be biting off more....
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:35 PM   #3
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It looks like to me that the floor is completely rotten all around the edges, under where the kitchen sink was, under where the refrigerator was, the whole area where the bathroom was in the rear and the entire front section. I am thinking the whole subfloor needs replacing, which I would like to reinsulate and check the frame too. There are several areas around the outside wrap that look to be needing resealed or replaced (not sure how to do that, YET). I am very eager to learn though! Thanks for your reply. Sure wish I knew someone I could take it to just to tell the places that need work.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:40 PM   #4
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As I post, I am literally removing rivets of the interior wall so I can get to the subfloor. :-)
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:26 PM   #5
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I feel a little better today. I was able to get a lot accomplished. Can anyone say rivets? I removed some stubborn rivets today. I also removed window screens and window hardware. I labeled and bagged everything! I took out interior walls and pink insulation. I finally got to see the C-channel that I have read so much about! I hope I can get it ready for lift off. (Shell removal). And for all your Rivettes out there, I worked right by myself!
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:14 PM   #6
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What do you have in the way of clecos and wood for bracing the shell? You are a busy mom! Good job I will not be putting the fiberglass back in using foam and prodex instead.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:47 PM   #7
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You have a really big but very doable job ahead of you but I am sure that the other folks with you type trailer will be very helpful! I am an armature ebut will help where I can. Have you disconnected and removed the gas tanks yet?(safety first)
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:52 PM   #8
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Obtw Jeannie my best friend and soul mate of 37 years has minimal carpentry skills will be doing most of the interior wood on the caravel! Means there will be a bandsaw in my garage soon!!
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:09 PM   #9
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Oh that is encouraging that Jeannie will be doing the wordwork! I will be looking forward to hearing how that goes. You brought up several good points. Making sure gas is disconnected is next on the list! Also, I DO NOT plan on putting that pink stuff back in! Definitely going with the good stuff. Actually, my husband owns a building supply business so I will get insulation and the bracing lumber from him. He doesn't help much with this project though, I guess he does it all day. Besides, like me he knows nothing about trailers. You know, the cobbler's son has no shoes! Haha. Thanks for all the input!
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:23 PM   #10
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enosburg , Vermont
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You've cleared the 1st hurdle, determination & no self doubt......I'm guessing you've accessed everything you can see and decided its a go. Sure looks it from the pics. But, its the things you can't yet see that need attention. The axles, probably the visual inspection for safe was right. But, after 35yrs its near certain the rubber rods inside the axles are "set", which means no cussioning suspension on the road. That will destroy all your hard work. Search the forums to learn how to check them. Next, the frame. You're right, the floor perimeter is bad. The only real fix is a new deck [floor]. That means belly pan removal for a "body off" or belly pan seams opened up for a body on, the only 2 ways you can attach a new floor. Either way you will see the frame eventually. Its best to unzip [open up] the belly pan now to be certain you have a good or repairable frame. Odds are better than even the frame is ok or needs a little minor repair like outriggers. Axles, frame & floor are the foundation and largest hurdles to a restore. Once you determine they are ok or repairable the rest is no sweat. In another 35 yrs you'll pass it on to your kids. Woa, 1st time out, 31 footer, you've got grit!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by putback View Post
You've cleared the 1st hurdle, determination & no self doubt......I'm guessing you've accessed everything you can see and decided its a go. Sure looks it from the pics. But, its the things you can't yet see that need attention. The axles, probably the visual inspection for safe was right. But, after 35yrs its near certain the rubber rods inside the axles are "set", which means no cussioning suspension on the road. That will destroy all your hard work. Search the forums to learn how to check them. Next, the frame. You're right, the floor perimeter is bad. The only real fix is a new deck [floor]. That means belly pan removal for a "body off" or belly pan seams opened up for a body on, the only 2 ways you can attach a new floor. Either way you will see the frame eventually. Its best to unzip [open up] the belly pan now to be certain you have a good or repairable frame. Odds are better than even the frame is ok or needs a little minor repair like outriggers. Axles, frame & floor are the foundation and largest hurdles to a restore. Once you determine they are ok or repairable the rest is no sweat. In another 35 yrs you'll pass it on to your kids. Woa, 1st time out, 31 footer, you've got grit!!!!!!!!
Hey! Awesome advice! It gives me some specific steps to follow, which helps me a lot overcoming the occasional overwhelmed feeling I get when I just sit on a hunting stool in the Sov and look around at all the work. I am not sure that it is grit or ignorance along with a touch of sentiment and a pinch of nostalgia, and oh having three kids and needing somewhere for everyone to sleep while camping. Haha. So, for this week and weekend, disconnect the gas then drop the bellypan. Ugh! Here are a few pictures from today where I took wall and insulation out, temporarily fixed battery door and I think you can see I have some parts of c channel that need fixing. I also came across a bunch of broken glass in the insulation. There must have been a broken window at some point and fixed by PO.
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:52 PM   #12
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I can offer you nothing but support, i would come hold tools for you if I could. i love your story, I love the support of the others. I admire you taking on this very special project. I will be following on this exciting and fulfilling journey, you are teaching your children too...good for all of you.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:48 PM   #13
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Hey, who knows, maybe your husband will catch aluminitis from you and get out there and pitch in. I agree with Sbb about the example you are giving to your children. They will see that no matter how daunting a project is, if you just take it a step at a time you'll get to the end. Real life leasons here for them to see.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:21 AM   #14
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That floor does not look rotten to me. It look like there is some water damage but the two photos you posted don't concern me that much. If you can't stick a screw drive all the way through it, then it is probably usable. The main area of concern is at the back which you probably can't see till you remove the bathroom.

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