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Old 04-25-2015, 08:56 AM   #1
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Project 74 Soverign 31'

Hi all,

I'm looking for an experienced AS craftsman to complete my project 1974 Soverign 31'. I've been a forum reader for the past 2 years while searching for my first airstream. Quickly I realized that the older, neqlected AS could possibly have serious hidden damages. My objective was to not renovate, but build a modern interior. So, the search was limited to a large AS with minimal body damage.

Well, we found the 1974 Soverign in IN that had been gutted and a family was using as a hard roofed tent for their camping adventures. Rear beadroom model. Getting it back to Knoxville, TN was no problem with my already-completed future tow vehicle - a 1995 2500 Suburban with 5.9 Cummins and Allison 5-spd auto transmission and disc brakes all around (ABS delete).

What has been completed over the past 2 years?

The interior panels were removed. Ratty insulation was removed. The body was lifted off and the frame was sand blasted, new metal was replaced as needed, and painted/epoxy primmered. The gray, black, and water tanks were cleaned and digital level indicators were added. The wheel well fenders were cracked, so custom aluminum replacements were made with line-x covering. New 3/4" plywood was epoxy primered and installed. New aluminum skins were added to the bottom. Lastly, the body was re-attached.

What needs to be done?

Design interior and install electrical. Insulation. Attach interior panels. Choose type of paint/spray finish for interior panels. Fix windows. Install flooring. Build out design.

What I want with the interior?

Uncluttered!! Fit and finish typical to a Newmar Mountain Aire motor home. 2 recliners up front. Corean counter tops. Rear bedroom twin beads. Quiet air conditioning solution.

One idea I have for a generator solution is to fabricate a steel plate and mount 2 honda 2000 generators. Then install a receiver hitch on the front of the Suburban and slide in the generators as needed. Any thought here?

Here are pictures of my progress. Thanks for any advice and/or help.
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Old 01-23-2016, 07:31 PM   #2
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Good progress has been made on the 1974 Soverign. All of the windows have been redone. Fortunately, the vista view windows had the removeable snap ring. Bought a piece of plexiglass from Lowes and made new interior panes, cleaned off film, added new butyl gaskets and reinstalled. Interestingly, the crackled film in one vista view was actually the protecting film for the old plexiglass that had not been removed in an earlier installation.

The hinged windows came apart nicely via the 12-15 aluminum screws. We cleaned them up and used stainless screws for reassembly. Tried various old school gasket adhesive and did not like. Used a med viscosity CA glue which was wonderful.

I caught a warm weekend a couple of weeks ago and stripped the clearcoat. My Bonanza C35 aircraft mechanic recommended the Benco B12 stripper. It is made nearby in Crossville TN and cost $71 for 5 gal bucket. I set a kerosene heater in the AS, the outside temp was 55 degrees, and used a paintbrush and roller to apply the stripper. Let it sit for 2 hours then used a pressure washer to remove. Had to repeat on the corners where the clearcoat was a little thicker.

Now I am studying the wiring and working on interior layout. Polishing will have to wait for warmer weather.

For HVAC, I purchased 2 ClimateRight 5k btu units. I am going to extend the rear bumper to create a platform to mount the 2 ClimateRights, 2 Honda 2000 generators, and 2 external plastic gas tanks feeding the generators. Each ClimateRight unit has a 4" air out and a 4" air in hole with removeable 4" flex duct that will enter the rear of the AS. One set will be ducted up the leftside and open into the front livingroom just pasr the refrigerator. The other set will take care of the rear bedroom.

I am going to widen the center bath maybe 6-8" and have the hallway offset somewhat. The AS was gutted when I bought it, so I am going to use the HepvO shower drain solution underneath a plywood shower floor covered with shower pan liner and a teak floor. Then either ceramic or aluminum walls.

The front living room will have a desk high custom bar that my professional furniture maker soon is creating. It will have a televator which will raise the 40" tv to completely cover the front window when in use. The bar will stretch across the front and wrap around to the door on the right and serve as a dining table and work desk also. 2 recliners will finish the living room.

I'll post progress photos as we move along.

Would certainly appreciate any comments on my interior ideas.


Barry Robertson
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Old 01-23-2016, 08:03 PM   #3
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1964 26' Overlander
1974 31' Sovereign
Milton , ON
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonanzabarry View Post
For HVAC, I purchased 2 ClimateRight 5k btu units. I am going to extend the rear bumper to create a platform to mount the 2 ClimateRights, 2 Honda 2000 generators, and 2 external plastic gas tanks feeding the generators.

Barry Robertson
Hi Barry,

Your project is coming along well!

This will be too much weight to hang off the rear frame unless you do something to significantly strengthen it. Some 70's era trailers had problems with the rear frame sagging (separating from the shell) even without adding any extra weight. It's probably possible to do this, but it's going to require changes to the frame.

You also need to consider whether adding this much weight that far behind the axles will reduce the tongue weight too much. When new, your trailer would have had a dry weight of about 5000 lbs and a tongue weight of about 650 lbs, or about 13% or the dry weight. Adding those items to the rear will reduce your tongue weight and cause handling problems. Any steel you add to strengthen the rear frame will further reduce tongue weight.

People have added generators and AC units to the A-frame of the trailer, so perhaps that would be an option. Some have even extended the A-frame to create more space. That would likely result in an increased tongue weight, which is better than decreasing it. Then it becomes a matter of whether your tow vehicle has sufficient capacity.
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1946 Spartan Manor
1954 Va-Ka-Shun-Ette
1964 Overlander
1965 Avion C-10 Truck Camper
1974 Sovereign
2005 F-350 SRW 4x4 crew cab long box
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Old 01-24-2016, 02:23 PM   #4
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The only need for propane is for the water heater, so perhaps a single propane tank could be relocated to a rear cavity. Then more room would be created on the a-frame from the displaced propane tanks (also getting the propane tank closer to the water heater).

What is involved in extending the a-frame? And is there also a method to extend the tow vehicle's ball hitch?
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Old 01-24-2016, 09:57 PM   #5
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1964 26' Overlander
1974 31' Sovereign
Milton , ON
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 798
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Originally Posted by bonanzabarry View Post
The only need for propane is for the water heater, so perhaps a single propane tank could be relocated to a rear cavity. Then more room would be created on the a-frame from the displaced propane tanks (also getting the propane tank closer to the water heater).
If you're not using propane what are your plans for cooking and for the refrigerator?

I think extending the a-frame would involve removing the floor and the current a-frame and building a new one. It's a major job involving a lot welding and an understanding of the forces involved and strength of steel needed. I'm not suggesting that's the best way to go, just that it's a possibility.

I haven't heard of putting a propane tank in a compartment on a travel trailer, but they do it on truck campers so I don't see why you couldn't.

Or you could switch to diesel like Smokeless Joe did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonanzabarry View Post
What is involved in extending the a-frame? And is there also a method to extend the tow vehicle's ball hitch?
If you mean moving it farther back from the axle, you probably don't want to do that. The greater the distance from the ball to the axle the more likely you'll have problems with sway, and the more load you put in the rear axle of your tow vehicle.
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Grant Davidson
Milton, ON

1946 Spartan Manor
1954 Va-Ka-Shun-Ette
1964 Overlander
1965 Avion C-10 Truck Camper
1974 Sovereign
2005 F-350 SRW 4x4 crew cab long box
TAC ON-5
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