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Old 02-13-2016, 03:21 PM   #1
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Rear end seperation?

I'm new to this but the gf and I have been talking about finding an AS for a couple of years and we are getting close to pulling the trigger. We don't mind if it is a little bit of a project but don't want to get in over our heads. I'm looking at a 72 Sovereign right now. The skin look good and the PO has done some work to some of the sytems inside. I am pretty sure the axles are shot but that could be negotiated in the price I believe. My biggest concern is the rear end. I did the 'stand on the bumper' test but I was by myslf when I went to look at it. I noticed some flex but it didn't seem terrible. I neglected to take a picture of the bumper area. The inside looked good until I got to the rear bath. I can tell the floor around the toilet has issues and needs attention. Not ideal, but fixable I believe. The big issue is that it appears the rear vanity area is 'falling' based on the cracks I saw. Is this proof positive that the rear end is seperating? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 02-13-2016, 03:34 PM   #2
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I assume this is a rear bath AS. By "rear vanity" do you mean the bathroom sink and counter under the window over the rear bumper? The subfloor in this area is prone to water damage and rot. You can access this area through the outside rear compartment and the bottom of the bathroom cabinets. Look for signs of damage and rot. Probe the subfloor with an icepick. Some rot in this area is to be expected. A lot of rot can be a major factor in rear end separation.

I also suggest while you are at it taking a line of sight along the lower side of the trailer. The belt line trim should be reasonably straight with no bulges at the wheel wells. This could indicate problems with the frame or subflloor.
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Old 02-13-2016, 03:59 PM   #3
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Thanks for the tip. That is exactly the area I'm talking about. I'm going to look at it again tomorrow and I'll look for the bulging you mentioned. I did take some pictures of it but I can't figure out how to post them. It took me all of 2 minutes to fall in love with it but I need to make sure I don't bite off more than I can chew. We want to be able to use the trailer while we fix it up.
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:14 PM   #4
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We want to be able to use the trailer while we fix it up.
Yeah....Goodluck with that. I was hoping that would be the case with my Airstream as well but "ONLY" lost one season restoring the entire inside. BTW I'm a skilled cabinetmaker to boot.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worse case senario.

Unless the trailer has been stored inside and never saw the outside for its entire life there's a very good chance that subfloor issues will be present and tearing apart the inside of an Airstream to fix them is not easy; putting it back together, is even harder.

Cheers
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Old 02-13-2016, 06:42 PM   #5
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Most un-restored Airstreams of that vintage with the rear bath are going to have issues with rear-end separation.
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Old 02-13-2016, 06:59 PM   #6
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I am a cabinet maker too and have experience in extensive home renovations. I hoped some of those skills would transfer but now I'm not so sure. The owner is asking $7000 but I think they are ready to sell. Don't know if I can get enough of a discount to cover the work needed though the way this is starting to look!
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:01 PM   #7
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Yes, just bought mine. Pulled up the decking and yes, frame rot/rust. Welding in rear crossmember, tank separator, reinforcing plate on another crossmember, the box base, the two tank hold down spars. But it will be new shortly. Expensive. But restoration demands the best of us.
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Old 02-13-2016, 08:15 PM   #8
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As one cabinetmaker to another, this is what you can face.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...me-106269.html

It was my skills that made the job easier than it would for a novice, but working in an Airstream will test even your resolve. The biggest thing you must do is to understand that working on an Airstream is like working on a boat, nothing is level or square; you must use what is called "fair line". What that means is, if it looks good and works, then it is okay, even if the level is off or the measurements don't add up.

You will also use new and difficult construction methods for constructing new cabinets. My cabinets are all Dominoed face frame with no bottoms, no backs and gables only long enough to support drawer slides. The counter tops themselves are the tops for the cabinets. My drawers are built out of 1/2" Baltic birch instead of 5/8". This was done to save as much weight as possible.

The difference between my and your project, is mine was a moho, so weight distribution isn't a big issue. A trailer on the other hand is a whole different kettle of fish.

First and foremost, weigh your trailer empty, divide into four fairly equal sections, two ahead and two behind the axles. Then weigh everything that comes out of those sections, taking care to replace with the same weight. If however you say reduce the weight in the very front section by 100lbs, you will need to reduce the weight in the very last section by the same amount.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everding72 View Post
I am a cabinet maker too and have experience in extensive home renovations. I hoped some of those skills would transfer but now I'm not so sure. The owner is asking $7000 but I think they are ready to sell. Don't know if I can get enough of a discount to cover the work needed though the way this is starting to look!
There is a lot more to restoring an old Airstream than cabinetmaking, although that is a nice skill to have! Do your research on the level of effort and costs involved, you might be surprised at the level of commitment. If you do your own work, it's dozenS of thousands of dollars for parts and a thousand hours plus of labor. All you are really buying here is a body and the beginnings of a frame. The rest is toast. Assuming the body is in good shape (only small dings you can live with,) a fair price for this type of project trailer is $3,000 or less.
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Old 02-14-2016, 09:36 AM   #10
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I've never seen a seventies rear bath model without at least some rear end rot and separation.

Here are my threads on our '72 Ambassador-
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f354...ion-71467.html
How to fix it-
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...n-h-73643.html

Good luck!
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:30 AM   #11
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I've never seen a seventies rear bath model without at least some rear end rot and separation.
Mine had no rot and only moved about 1/16" at the rear bumper but it's been here in the CA desert it's whole life and we only get 4" of rain/year.
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:54 AM   #12
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My 72 had pretty serious separation and rot on purchase.

I replaced the last sheet of plywood and the last four feet of frame, and a few floor patches under the front windows.

From purchase to first few week long use was about 120 days.

I have done more since then, and changed quite a bit of stuff, but to date I have less than 25K in the trailer.

Fixing rear separation is not hard once all of the interior and fixtures are removed.


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Old 02-14-2016, 10:56 AM   #13
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Separation

Our first as was a 73 31' Sov. Great shape except the last 3 feet. Pulled entire rear bath and replaced the last section of floor. Lucky there was no frame damage.while the back was clear opened up the inside corners and cut 1\4 in thick plates from stainless to fit in the channels to replace the steel ones and made them to fill the channel. While every things out. It's s good chance to check and redo plumbing. Good luck.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:13 PM   #14
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Mine had no rot and only moved about 1/16"
.
Ditto on my 73 Sovereign
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:21 PM   #15
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Basically, the following is a good fix

rear end sep

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Old 02-14-2016, 02:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Mine had no rot and only moved about 1/16" at the rear bumper but it's been here in the CA desert it's whole life and we only get 4" of rain/year.
Quote:
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Ditto on my 73 Sovereign
OK it does exist, but I haven't seen it personally. The OP is in Minnesota, so I'd be willing to bet it has some rear floor rot. Now, if we were in the desert southwest it may be a different story.
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:44 PM   #17
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I went back to look at it again today to try and talk myself into it. I had my gf (yes, she did this with me on Valentine's Day...she is a keeper I think) stand on the rear bumper and it deflected by over 1/2". Looking down the side of the trailer you can see some slight bulging of the skin. You can see where the shelf on the rear wall of the bathroom has separated and fallen by about 3/4". The tires are bottomed out in the wheelwells so even though it has new shocks and the bearings were serviced I think the axles are bad as well. The current owner came down to $5800 but we are still miles apart. He says he had an RV guy come and look at it and the RV guy says the axels are fine and there is only a 'little' rotten wood by the toliet. I don't mind fixing up the interior but for the price this is just too much of a project for me unless I win the lottery! Thanks again for all the input and we will keep searching!
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:12 PM   #18
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Imho it is overpriced at $5,800.

But it will sell for what it sells for.


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Old 02-14-2016, 08:45 PM   #19
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I promise you that practically every guy who ended up doing a shell-off started out thinking he was going to pick up a cool vintage trailer for a cheap price, do some superficial refurbishment and slick modifications, and be camping in a matter of months (yes that was me too, and I am now 4 years into a never-ending rebuild). The vintage trailer that doesn't need a lot of frame and floor repair has either spent its life indoors in a dry climate, or it has already had the work done.

So I would caution you against rushing out and buying a trailer that you have to convince yourself to like, especially one that has known floor rot, rear end separation, and certainly a laundry list of other issues. It really doesn't matter much if the price is $5800 or $2000, because you will spend many thousands by the time you turn back 40 years of neglect.

One good resource is the early episodes of the Vintage Airstream Podcast (The VAP). Listen to a bunch of these on your daily commute, and your expectations will end up much calibrated much better.

Good luck!
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:42 PM   #20
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The current owner came down to $5800 but we are still miles apart. He says he had an RV guy come and look at it and the RV guy says the axels are fine and there is only a 'little' rotten wood by the toliet.!
"An RV guy" and someone who knows Airstreams is like apples and oranges. Sovereigns are the least valuable of 70s Airstreams. Generally, the older they are and the shorter they are the more they are worth. This Sovereign sounds like a $3000 trailer, maybe. If you fixed it up and wanted to resell it you would be lucky to break even. Figure putting in 10 to 15K to get it nice. If you go back in a few months and it is still there you probably could deal. IMHO the best vintage deals are someone who has done a lot of the grunge work already, got burned out, and decided to sell. Take your time, use your head not your emotions and you will find your trailer.
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