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Old 01-22-2015, 11:06 AM   #1
Green, but Eager to Learn
1970 31' Sovereign
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1
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New Restoration Project: Need Inspection, Austin, TX: 1970 Sovereign

Hi there, I'm looking for advice on restoration and someone knowledgable that can give me an inspection in Austin, TX.

Just picked this guy up in Huntington Beach, CA and towed it back to Austin, TX, where I'll be turning it into my new project. I'm new to Airstream restoration, but have given myself the time freedom to be able to focus on this full time for the next few months.

First off, I'd love to have someone come out and inspect this thing and give me an idea of which areas of restoration should come first. The trailer has been completely gutted, with new floors put in, but all counter space, shelving, and bedding has been removed. Only the bathroom fixtures remain.

A couple of the windows are leaking, so I'd like to look into getting everything sealed up from the outside elements and have an electrical engineer or someone who knows about these things look into the electrical system and give me some advice.

Any thoughts or ideas on the best way to get started, good books or resources to check out, and any other forum posts that you feel would be beneficial would be greatly appreciated.

My goal is to get this thing livable, so that I can use it as a place to stay and write my latest book. Not necessarily trying to get it to a dry-camp ready state, right away, but would be happy to just have it as a stationary writer's nook that I can keep out on my land, hook into 110 and water, and enjoy the sanctuary. However, it'd be great to have dry-camp ready as a Phase II goal.

Thanks so much.


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Old 01-22-2015, 09:22 PM   #2
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1999 34' Excella
Currently Looking...
Hillsboro , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2013
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That's quite a project you picked up... good luck!

Peace and Blessings..
WBCCI# 30676
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Old 01-23-2015, 05:50 AM   #3
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1973 27' Overlander
Portsmouth , Virginia
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 776
Welcome to the forum. Normally its better to get the inspection done before you buy it, but I'm sure somebody local to you can probably help out.

How did they replace the floor? Is it something like new vinyl or did they replace the wooden subfloor? I can tell you just from the side photo that the axles are shot, but if you arent towing it anywhere soon, they can sit for awhile.

Most of your interior fixtures are 12V, but you also have your 110v outlets, nothing really high tech. Buy a good little meter for 25 bucks at a local radioshack or whatever place you can find them, that will be a big help in the long run. And post some pix of the interior and some closeups of the rear bumper area and anywhere else you have a question and I'm sure you will get some feedback.

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Old 01-23-2015, 10:17 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,261
Welcome to the forums!

Go to the "Portal" tab just under the Air Forums logo. From the Portal, you can find and download the buyer's inspection checklist. Granted, with a gutted trailer, there will be a lot less to inspect, but it will give you a starting point. Also on the portal, there is an inspector locator tool that may help you find someone in your area who can come and look over your trailer.

There are many threads here on the forums that describe members' rennovations from start to finish. There is also a thread that lists many of these "full monty" restorations at the following:

Another resource is the Vintage Airstream Podcast (the VAP). The early episodes discussed a lot of the finding, evaluating, repairing, restoring type of topics. You can buy all the old episodes and listen to them as you commute, etc., to passively absorb Vintage Airstream info.

"Shop" manuals are available for trailers from the 1970's and newer. They aren't exactly a step-by-step rennovation guide, but they do go into a lot of detail about how to fix pretty much everything that needs to be fixed, short of a complete shell-off. Most importantly, these manuals have the wiring diagrams for your trailer. As mentioned in one of the other posts, if you have a wiring diagram and a volt-ohm meter, you can track down and troubleshoot your electrical system.

As far as where to start, physically, with your rennovation, the first decision you have to make is whether you need to do a shell-off. This means figuring out whether the new floor you see was correctly installed/repaired, or is a completely superficial bandaid over a rotten mess. If you find that you have a lot of rotten floor, the decision is whether it can be patched, or needs to be completely replaced. For complete replacement, I recommend lifting the shell--gives you a lot of options on the repair/painting of the frame, installation of tanks, replacement of axles, etc. Search for "gantry", and you will probably find some threads discussing this.

The trailer is much like a house. The first thing you should do is fix the leaks (think vents, windows, doors, plumbing vents), so that water doesn't continue to pour in, and then work from the foundation up, ie., subfloor/frame/bellypan before any attention to the interior. Axles will need to be replaced, but they aren't the first thing to do, in fact they could be done last.

Just manage your expections: buying a 40 year old trailer is much like buying a 40 year old car that has been left parked in a field somewhere. You are going to have to do a lot of work on it to make it safe/functional, let alone "nice."

good luck!
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Old 01-25-2015, 08:07 AM   #5
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1978 31' Sovereign
Rosanky , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 1
Call John Plato in Austin and see if he will travel to you and how much he will charge to come out to inspect and advise. Buy Truck Box Polish at Lowe's to polish before sealing windows with Parr Parbond and or Tremco TremPro 635. Buy a 6" orbital polisher at Harbor Freight for $50.00 or so. Use Nuvite for the final polish. Your A/C looks like it needs to be replaced. You'll need that in Texas, and it will only run on 110 V. In that case, you can run a small fridge on the 110, as well as lights through the 110 wall plugs. Otherwise all the lights in an airstream are 12 volt which are run by a battery which is charged by the converter from the 110v source. Get a 1500w ceramic heater for winters if you're going to rely on 110v rather than the propane furnace. As it is gutted you can leave the open concept, install futon, furniture etc...
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Old 01-25-2015, 08:56 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 13
There is a guy in south Austin who restores Airstreams who could give you some solid "good advice". His name is Steve and you can reach Steve at 512-826-5921. Tell Steve that Casey in Camp Wood referred you to him.

I would caution you that there are several shops that bill themselves as experts who are anything but. One is located in Johnson City and one in New Braunfels. Whoever you decide to work with make sure and get several references and then check them out. Your project should be fun and exciting and it will be with the right folks. Otherwise your in for an expensive, frustrating, experience.

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