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Old 02-18-2013, 04:28 PM   #1
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1966 26' Overlander
Tampa , Florida
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Question In Over My Head?

My husband recently passed away and I traded his motorcycle for a 1966 Overlander. It is currently parked (with me in it) in my father's driveway. The rear bath is in near perfect condition. The floor, however, under the toilet needs replacing and I really wouldn't mind having a stand up shower and perhaps a bit more modern fixtures. The bunks and overhead storage, apart from needing some latch replacements are in good condition. The front sofa unit could use work, but I plan on removing it anyway, along with one of the bunks. The kitchen has no appliances (and the floor where the frig was needs reinforcing) but I plan on redoing it anyway. The rest of the floor is solid.

What are my options here? should I do a full gut? And if so... where do I turn for help. I know I'm in over my head, but this has always been a dream and the opportunity presented itself, so I took it. Would it be better for me to try to trade for something a bit newer (even if it wasn't an Airstream)? Any help would be appreciated.

Dianne
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:15 PM   #2
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Pictures

Post some interior and outside pictures so we can see what you have. Pictures always help in forum members providing suggestions.
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:23 PM   #3
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What is your goal? A fully restored trailer, a project to give you something to do, something to go to the local campground a few times a year, a spare bed room at home or something to jump in and tour the USA?

I see each of those as distinctly different paths forward.

Oh, on edit...welcome!

and no, you are not over your head...
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:33 PM   #4
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Welcome Dianne! I'm sorry for the loss of your husband. You can do this. There are people here who will give you instruction and ideas. Learn to use the search tool. I agree to seize the opportunity to fulfill a dream. (and we love pics...)
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:37 PM   #5
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Dear Dianne, first WELCOME HERE!

Second, you may be in over your head, or you may just have a hobby that you can enjoy while upgrading. I'm so sorry for your loss, but if you think you'll enjoy Airstreaming I'm sure it will help you through the recovery phase. (Why IS wrestling with a rusted on bolt or trying to fix plumbing in an area that would challenge a munchkin contortionist so therapeutic?)

In order for anyone to give you really good advice - more information is needed. If you're 75, in poor health and don't know how to use a power drill... trading for a newer, sounder unit would be a best case choice. If you are younger, in good health, have done some "do it yourself" projects, and have patience and a reasonable amount of money... then go for it.

Presuming that you're considering going for it, this forum is great, but it's not the only resource you should consider. Your local WBCCI, any Vintage Airstreamers in the area, any one who restores other brands of vintage RV's (Tin Can Tourists), are great sources of advice and help.

In this forum, study a lot of threads. Do a search on "full monte" for starters. Next, get together a good "project list" or timeline - it's important to do work in the right order so you don't have to tear out anything to fix an underlying problem you didn't think about first. I have a newer unit, so I don't have a good one tagged, but as an example there's no point in repairing anything in the interior until you are sure the frame is in good repair, the floor is solid, and the propane, water and electrical lines are safe. Axle replacement can wait IF you are stationery or just do one or two short trips per season. New shocks wouldn't hurt though. You can camp in a "silver tent" if you've got those minimum things working. A card table and a couple of folding chairs, a hot plate, an inflatable mattress and a good cooler that doubles as a seat, plus a porta potty, and a big bucket to wash in, you're good to go.

Welcome aboard. Paula
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
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Diane,

I would also like to welcome you. I have two suggestions, listen to TheVAP podcast, it can be reached at TheVAP.com and you should consider purchasing Tim Shepard's book "Restoring a Dream" it is about his experience in locating and restoring his Ambassador.

Bill
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:02 PM   #7
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Thanks all! I'm 52 and in decent health though a bit out of shape. I know much more about Harleys than Airstreams. I plan on living in it stationary (don't know where until I can find a job somewhere). Anyway, I will post pics soon. I have a feeling it will be a gut job and since it is difficult to retrofit new bathrooms into this old of a trailer, I hope I can get the bath out intact. If not, I may be bathing in a washtub!
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:29 PM   #8
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In Over My Head?

Greetings Dianne!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Overlander ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDDavies View Post
My husband recently passed away and I traded his motorcycle for a 1966 Overlander. It is currently parked (with me in it) in my father's driveway. The rear bath is in near perfect condition. The floor, however, under the toilet needs replacing and I really wouldn't mind having a stand up shower and perhaps a bit more modern fixtures. The bunks and overhead storage, apart from needing some latch replacements are in good condition. The front sofa unit could use work, but I plan on removing it anyway, along with one of the bunks. The kitchen has no appliances (and the floor where the frig was needs reinforcing) but I plan on redoing it anyway. The rest of the floor is solid.
So far as the bathroom is concerned, my suggestion would be to consider having the fixtures refinished in a more modern color of your choice. Due to the curvature of the body sides, it can be quite difficult to match new fixtures to the body. I couldn't stand the avacado green bathroom fixtures in my Overlander so I had a local bathroom refinisher refinish the entire bathroom in a color called "Antique Pewter" as can bee seen in the photo below:


When it comes to the bathroom floor, you may have to remove all or most of the bathroom fixtures for the repair. I was fortunate in that only the streetside corner of my Overlander's floor needed replacement so the toilet didn't even have to be removed (but the wardrobes had to be removed which also meant that the streetside twin bed and upper storage lockers had to be removed) . . . the bathroom was the first furniture to be installed so it takes some significant removal to release bathroom fixtures. Prior to attempting the repair, you should also examine the coach carefully for evidence of rear end separation something that usually accompanies rot in the rear floor. Rear end separation can be identified by having someone stand on the rear bumper while observing the joint between the body and the frame rail that is attached to the bumper . . . if a gap opens up there is some separation that should be addressed as well.

While the toilet is out for floor repairs, you would have a good opportunity to replace it with a modern version . . . if you are planning on frequent use or full-timing, you might want to consider an RV toilet with a china bowl as they are much easier to keep clean. While the toilet is out would also be a good time to inspect the black water tank and either repair/replace as necessary.

When you note that the floor needs reinforcement where the refrigerator will reside, you may have a weak/compromised outrigger (I had this problem on my Overlander). There are several outriggers (frame members) along each side of the frame, and these can rust to the point where they fail. When these outriggers fail, the floor and body of the trailer aren't properly supported and can result in floor and/or sidewall issues. Often, weak or failed outriggers can be identified by small vertical slits that are worn in the banana wraps (curved aluminum between exterior sidewalls and bottom of coach) . . . if you find these slits, it is critical to get to the bottom of the cause and make repairs as substantial body/floor damage can result from failed outriggers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDDavies View Post
What are my options here? should I do a full gut? And if so... where do I turn for help. I know I'm in over my head, but this has always been a dream and the opportunity presented itself, so I took it. Would it be better for me to try to trade for something a bit newer (even if it wasn't an Airstream)? Any help would be appreciated.
Dianne
So long as you don't find significant wide-spread floor rot or frame damage, I would suggest make repairs needed and begin enjoying Airstream travel. You are facing some rather substantial expenses just making the needed repairs, and going to the extent of a full gut is going to mean taking the coach out of service for quite some time and the costs can escalate quickly. A new refrigerator will likely run around $1,000 to as much as $1,500 depending upon the model that you choose. A range with ove is likely to run somewhere between $575 and $900 depending upon model chosen.


Some other things to consider:
  • You are likely to find that the coach will need new axles at a cost of between $1,500 to $2,500 (you can order new axles complete with brakes which is usually a good idea on a Vintage coach).
  • The Univolt (power converter) will need to be replaced if it hasn't already been replaced as the original Univolts utilized by Airstream are noted for boiling the electrolyte and ruining batteries . . . typical cost is in the vicinity of $300.
  • The PAR water pump may need rebuilding or replace ment. If the original PAR water pump is still in the coach it is well worth seeing if it can be rebuilt at they are much more durable than what is available today (it may be somewhat noisier than a modern pump).
  • The water heater, if original, will also likely need to be replaced as it is beyond its expected useful life. A new water heater can run between $500 and $1,000 depending upon model and options selected.
  • The furnace may also need to be replaced if it is original as it is beyond its expected useful life and they are noted for potentinal issues with rusted heat exchangers that may leak carbon monoxide gas into the living quarters. A new furnace typically runs between $500 and $800.
  • The Armstrong Bay Breeze air conditioner, if the coach is so equipped, is well worth repairing. Unlike modern RV air conditioners, the Armstrong was designed to be rebuilt/maintained and parts can still be sourced to keep it running smoothly. Don't, however, expect the typical RV technician to be able or willing to make repairs . . . it is usually necessary to seek out a technician who is accustomed to working on commercial air conditioning equipment.
  • The 1966 through 1968 Airstreams are equipped with Corning tempered glass side windows that were impossible to find new replacements . . . reproduction side glass is now available, but is somewhat expensive. You may find acrylic material has been utilized on your coach to replace side glass that was broken while replacement glass was not available . . . the acrylic replacements were noted for leaking so it is advisable to examine the floor below any windows with replacement acrylic. Original Corning tempered glass windows should be examined to verify that they are firmly seated in their hinges and that gaskets and seals are soft and pliable and that the latches engage securely. There are several threads here on the Forums that discuss servicing the Corning glass windows.
  • You will also likely find that the coach needs routine seam sealing and replacement of gaskets/seals around sewer vent pipes (typically one near kitchen and one near bathroom) where they exit through the roof. Old, dried out caulking around fixtures that penetrate the roof and sidewalls of the coach will also likely need to be removed and replaced to insure that leaks are kept at bay. Compartments as well as entrance door will likely need to have their seals and gaskets renewed as well.
A good idea is to sit down and assess what needs to be done on the coach and then prioritize to suit budget and time constraints. Getting the coach water proofed is the first priority. Then you will want to focus on chassis, running gear, and flooring issues so that you have a sound working foundation to build upon. Once you have a sound running chassis and leaks under control, you can proceed with the additions and upgrades that will make your Overlander a comfortable traveling companion. I didn't have quite as many issues with my Overlander when I acquired it in 1995. I spent the first three months getting chassis and running gear issues resolved then traveled with the coach for almost seven years making improvements, replacements and upgrades as needed when the budget permitted. Today, I have the coach better than 90% restored . . . the last major item I have on my restoration list is axle replacement (since I tow part time with a vintage automobile, my plan is to go with hydraulic disc brakes as an upgrade with my new axles).

Good luck with your Overlander! I am sure that the Overlander will provide you with many years of enjoyment!

Kevin

P.S.: You might find that the WBCCI Intra-Club, Free Wheelers, may be of interest. The Free Wheelers are single Airstreamers who band together for rallys and caravans. I was a member for many years and enjoyed their rallys and caravans.

Should you find something that you are not comfortable addressing, there are a number of shops that specialize in various aspects of Airstream repair and restoration. I am not much of a do-it-yourselfer, so I have sought out professionals for many aspects of my Airstream and Argosy restoration. Three shops that I have relied upon for both coaches are:

Fowler RV Interiors, Symsonia, KY -- Joyce and Henry Fowler are true perfectionists and did amazing work on both my Overlander and Minuet. In both cases, they installed all new foam and upholstery, restored/refinished cabinetry, rebuilt the refrigerator cabinet in the overlander, built new oak tabletops for both coaches, created new drapes for both coaches, and installed new floor coverings in both coaches . . . the quality of their work is equivalent to or exceeds that of the Airstream factory.

P and S Trailer Service, Helena, Ohio -- The Ruths specialize in restoring the exterior of Airstreams plus they now have a whole host of other services that they offer covering a wide range of restoration services. They polished and Plasticoated the exterior of my Overlander returning to the original sheen as I remembered it from 1964. The quality of their work is beyond reproach (IMHO).

Ace Fogdall RV, Cedar Falls, Iowa -- When I first started doing business with Fogdalls, they had been Airstream dealers since about 1959 . . . they have since dropped their Airstream franchise, but it is my understanding that they are still an approved Airstream Service Center. They have handled many small and large projects on both my Airstream and Argosy and I have been thoroughly pleased with the quality and pricing of their work. I am several hundred miles from their shop, but still contact them when I need specialized parts and often make arrangement to have them service my coach when my travels take me close to Cedar Falls.
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:31 PM   #9
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Wow... Thanks so much Kevin. I would never have even thought about some of what you mentioned. I do feel a bit more informed now and at least know to get started. Thanks again.
Dianne
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:48 PM   #10
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OOPS!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Fowler RV Interiors, Symsonia, KY -- Joyce and Henry Fowler are true perfectionists and did amazing work on both my Overlander and Minuet. . . . .

That should read Arlene and Henry . . . I have no idea how I or why I typed Joyce . . . . .

Kevin
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:47 AM   #11
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Another quick question... I'm planning on replacing the flooring. I've heard that I should replace it with a click down floating floor. Is this the best option? I would like to put bamboo down and have found a floating bamboo floor I'd like to use.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:16 AM   #12
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Greetings Dianne!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDDavies View Post
Another quick question... I'm planning on replacing the flooring. I've heard that I should replace it with a click down floating floor. Is this the best option? I would like to put bamboo down and have found a floating bamboo floor I'd like to use.
There are basically three types of flooring that are utilized by Airstream restorers -- floating floors, carpeting, or vinyl tile (square tiles or sheets). Each of the three types has its advantages and disadvantages. I have Armstrong Laminate floating floor covering in my Minuet and for more than seven years, I have been very pleased with its durability and appearance. The installation in my Minuet included an underlayment material from Armstrong called "Quiet Step", and I am convinced that this premium underlayment helped to make the installation so successful. The one pointer that I picked up in the process is that it is advisable to get a sample of the floor covering and any underlayment to be used and test under cabinets and/or doors to determine if the thickness of the floor covering will pose any problems with operation of cabinet doors/drawers, etc.

Good luck with your investigation and floor covering selection!

Kevin
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:47 AM   #13
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We painted our floor with Aluthane after treating it with penetrating epoxy. It's durable and waterproof and really easy to clean. The aluminum color matches the metal in the trailer, it's hard enough to withstand scuffing and sweeps clean. Every now and then I wipe it with a damp paper towel to make it glow.

We may put something over it someday, but for now we're loving the low maintenance aluminum look. We have a couple of Ikea runners that can be cleaned by hosing them down on the lawn, so it's all easy, easy, easy.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:08 AM   #14
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Thanks again Kevin! I have a sample that I picked up at Home Depot. I'll definitely test it out, with underlayment, first.
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