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Old 04-02-2009, 01:07 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Where to start - 73 Soveriegn

I purchased at the beginning of March a 73 31' Soveriegn. My husband and I have been trying to decide what to do.

Here is the history on the airstream. This airstream has been setting for 10 years in a barn. During the 10 years something happened to the barn and it fell onto the airstream. I believe that someone used this as a storage area for all of there items that they did not want to get rid of. We have twin bed frames, and lots of other junk that we are going to be taking out and throwing away. Mice and Rats and who knows what else have been living in the airstream for the 10 years it sat in the barn. It has no couch in the front anymore. Side bath and double bed in the back. I guess my brother-in-law hooked up the electric and found out that everything works (I was not there to see it). I was very nervous that he did that because the the rat and mice problem. Not sure how good the floor is, the plywood is showing so we have to put some sort of flooring down. We have been thinking about it and think that we should just take everything out of it and start from there. Save what we can and replace what needs to be replaced. I think that the bathroom is in good shape.

Our main questions is where do we start? We do not have a huge budget to get this cleaned up. I am hoping that we can get it on the road to camp in next year. I don't think that we will be camping in it this year. I have already lost a month of fixing and cleaning because of other items that we have had to do.

We have a 5 1/2 year old son and we were thinking about putting a bunk bed above our bed to one side. Anyone done this before? This of course would be a temperary thing until we feel like he is old enough to be on the couch bed in the front of the camper. My husband and I don't like the idea of him being so far away in the camper. Any other suggestions?
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:56 PM   #2
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The first thing most of us do is do any repairs it may need on the exterior, find any places rain may be leaking in, and eliminate them. This usually means new skylight lids, new window and door gaskets, and recaulking the skylights, windows, running lights, etc. Once you have made the shell absolutely weathertight and hopefully rodent-tight, you can do what you want to the inside and not be wasting your time. New axles may also be required. There are many, many threads that discuss these processes at length- click on the "Forums" tab, scroll down to the area of interest, click on that, and then start reading the pertinent threads. Have fun!
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:07 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by damerritt View Post
I purchased at the beginning of March a 73 31' Soveriegn. My husband and I have been trying to decide what to do.

Here is the history on the airstream. This airstream has been setting for 10 years in a barn. During the 10 years something happened to the barn and it fell onto the airstream. I believe that someone used this as a storage area for all of there items that they did not want to get rid of. We have twin bed frames, and lots of other junk that we are going to be taking out and throwing away. Mice and Rats and who knows what else have been living in the airstream for the 10 years it sat in the barn. It has no couch in the front anymore. Side bath and double bed in the back. I guess my brother-in-law hooked up the electric and found out that everything works (I was not there to see it). I was very nervous that he did that because the the rat and mice problem. Not sure how good the floor is, the plywood is showing so we have to put some sort of flooring down. We have been thinking about it and think that we should just take everything out of it and start from there. Save what we can and replace what needs to be replaced. I think that the bathroom is in good shape.

Our main questions is where do we start? We do not have a huge budget to get this cleaned up. I am hoping that we can get it on the road to camp in next year. I don't think that we will be camping in it this year. I have already lost a month of fixing and cleaning because of other items that we have had to do.

We have a 5 1/2 year old son and we were thinking about putting a bunk bed above our bed to one side. Anyone done this before? This of course would be a temperary thing until we feel like he is old enough to be on the couch bed in the front of the camper. My husband and I don't like the idea of him being so far away in the camper. Any other suggestions?
Make a list of everything the trailer needs, along with the costs.

Being parked for a long time, would suggest that you will have a long list.

The beginning of the list would have gaskets etc, for the exterior, so that the trailer is leak free.

Andy
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:17 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forums! You'll find a wealth of information here.

We're in a similar position. We bought '74 Sovereign in January. I started by pulling everything out so I could see where the floor is rotten. I've removed most of the belly pan, and will take off the rest soon. Right now I'm recovering from jaw surgery which has slowed me down a bit.

You'll want to start by making sure the floor and frame are solid. From what I've seen so far our frame is not too bad, but there are some outriggers that need to be replaced, and a couple of cross members. I'm going to weld them, paint the frame and then replace the whole subfloor. Then I'll at least know that I'm starting from a good base. It had recently replaced furnace and water heater, and I think the range can be fixed up. The fridge was missing but we bought a replacement on Ebay. I'm going to stick with the same basic layout for the bathroom and kitchen, except that we're going to add bunks in the rear bedroom and where the closets were across from the bathroom, and put in a permanent dinette up front. We don't want to have to be converting it to a bed as we've found that to be too much of a bother in the past, especially with some of us being early risers and the teenagers in the family wanting to sleep in. One of the things that I like about the '74 is that I can tear out the interior and not feel bad about it.

This is our second Airstream. Our first is a '64 Overlander. While we've camped in it extensively and hauled it about 30000 miles, we didn't really dig deep enough at the start to make sure it was fixed properly. We made a lot of cosmetic changes to it, built a dinette and replaced the appliances, but there was still a lot of work to do on it and with the four kids getting bigger we got to the point where it seemed to make more sense to put our time into a trailer that would better suit the needs of the size of our family, thus the move to the Sovereign. We're keeping the Overlander and will go back and do a more thorough renovation at some point. No regrets, it suited our needs for 5 years and gave us a lot of experience with Airstream repairs and camping.

So I would start by going right to the frame and making sure it and the floor are solid, then you won't be needing to go back later to fix things you should have done at the start.
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Milton, ON

1946 Spartan Manor
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Old 04-02-2009, 08:33 PM   #5
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1973 31' Sovereign
Mishawaka , Indiana
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Thank you for the great tips and direction. We have discussed our strategy at length and your input is greatly appreciated. Our plan is flexible but I think ensuring the exterior is water tight is top priority. We do not have an enclosed space to complete the restoration so this will be number 1 (besides cleaning out). Then move on to the frame and figuring out this "grey tank" issue. I have had the pleasure of reviewing some threads with respect to investigating grey tanks and retro-fits. This appears to be a bit of a challenge but heck its only time and money. I have had my heart set on a Airstream for years and I finally got one. Luckily, we live near the RV capitol of the world and I found some great outlets for replacement parts. Now, I just need to clear my schedule for the forseeable future to get our Airstream on the road. You will hear alot from us as we will undoubtedly have tons of questions. Thank you kindly for the responses.
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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1973 31' Sovereign
Mishawaka , Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidsonOverlander View Post
Welcome to the forums! You'll find a wealth of information here.

We're in a similar position. We bought '74 Sovereign in January. I started by pulling everything out so I could see where the floor is rotten. I've removed most of the belly pan, and will take off the rest soon. Right now I'm recovering from jaw surgery which has slowed me down a bit.

You'll want to start by making sure the floor and frame are solid. From what I've seen so far our frame is not too bad, but there are some outriggers that need to be replaced, and a couple of cross members. I'm going to weld them, paint the frame and then replace the whole subfloor. Then I'll at least know that I'm starting from a good base. It had recently replaced furnace and water heater, and I think the range can be fixed up. The fridge was missing but we bought a replacement on Ebay. I'm going to stick with the same basic layout for the bathroom and kitchen, except that we're going to add bunks in the rear bedroom and where the closets were across from the bathroom, and put in a permanent dinette up front. We don't want to have to be converting it to a bed as we've found that to be too much of a bother in the past, especially with some of us being early risers and the teenagers in the family wanting to sleep in. One of the things that I like about the '74 is that I can tear out the interior and not feel bad about it.

This is our second Airstream. Our first is a '64 Overlander. While we've camped in it extensively and hauled it about 30000 miles, we didn't really dig deep enough at the start to make sure it was fixed properly. We made a lot of cosmetic changes to it, built a dinette and replaced the appliances, but there was still a lot of work to do on it and with the four kids getting bigger we got to the point where it seemed to make more sense to put our time into a trailer that would better suit the needs of the size of our family, thus the move to the Sovereign. We're keeping the Overlander and will go back and do a more thorough renovation at some point. No regrets, it suited our needs for 5 years and gave us a lot of experience with Airstream repairs and camping.

So I would start by going right to the frame and making sure it and the floor are solid, then you won't be needing to go back later to fix things you should have done at the start.
What do you tow your Sovereign with? Our Uncle towed our 31' Sovereign to the place it is now for us. We are on the look out for a truck now. I think our uncle towed with a F250 and had no problem. My husband thinks that we need to go for a bigger truck F350. Any thoughts?
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Here are some pictures of it.

Here are some pictures of our 1973 31' Sovereign.
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:36 PM   #8
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I think that you will find that a F-350 is waaay too much for that trailer. The older ones were lighter, I think my '74 31' Sovereign is 5100 pounds.

I am looking for an F-150 with the tow package, which I feel will be plenty. Too much truck is hard on the trailer, it wants gentle treatment.
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:46 PM   #9
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Which truck?

Quote:
Originally Posted by damerritt View Post
What do you tow your Sovereign with? Our Uncle towed our 31' Sovereign to the place it is now for us. We are on the look out for a truck now. I think our uncle towed with a F250 and had no problem. My husband thinks that we need to go for a bigger truck F350. Any thoughts?
I think an F250 would be fine, but we went with the F350 because we also want to use it with an Avion truck camper. We needed a full crew cab because we have 4 children, and a long box for the truck camper. We don't expect to use the Avion truck camper and trailer at the same time, although that would be cool to try.

I've read that the one ton trucks are more likely to cause frame separation. Our Sovereign already has signs of front frame separation (see photo), but that happened before we got it. I've only towed it about 400 miles. I don't know if the damage shown in the photo was caused by pulling with a one ton truck or not. A couple of lower panels have been replaced on the front curb side, that might have something to do with it. The axles also need to be replaced, which would put more stress on the frame.
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1946 Spartan Manor
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:51 PM   #10
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Tow vehicle

Is a 350 too much tow vehicle???

First of all, your not trying to tow the Queen Mary, but you will be towing an Airstream trailer.

Next is a 250. It really is more than is necessary, a waste of money and equipment, at least to me.

A well equipped 150 provides all that should be reasonably expected.

Well equipped meaning a transmission oil cooler, a good rear end ratio, as well as a decent engine. Have it set up with a good load equalizing hitch, that has excellent ability to control sway, and your in business. Stay away from the high rating torsion arms.
Airstreams are very easy to tow, in part because of their aerodynamic design. You don't need a freight truck to pull it, or to control it.

Andy
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:33 PM   #11
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Thank you everyone for your comments on what to tow with. We have been tossing all of the factors on the airstream and the type of truck. But we have not made our decision yet. You all have brought up a bunch of good ideas for us to consider.
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:38 PM   #12
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Welcome to Airstreaming! I'm sure you'll have lots of fun with your project!

Quote:
Originally Posted by damerritt View Post
Then move on to the frame and figuring out this "grey tank" issue. I have had the pleasure of reviewing some threads with respect to investigating grey tanks and retro-fits.
I have a '74 Overlander, which was the first year with the gray water tank. FWIW, I almost never use it. I just leave the valve open and let the water drain into the common dump line. If I'm at a campground where there is no sewer hookup, and it's really obvious, then I'll use it. Otherwise, I hook up a garden hose to an adapter and run it into the bushes. I would definately use the gray tank more if it was bigger than 10 gals.
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:55 PM   #13
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too big?

You can never have too much Pick Up/

(in this part of the Country)
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:13 AM   #14
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before you travel

Quote:
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Here are some pictures of our 1973 31' Sovereign.
I have done a fair amount of research and found one close to yours in year model but was not able to come to terms with the seller. I did look into a lot of things before I was going to commit and one thing I found.
You are going to want to get one of these before to take it on the road. You don't want one of those front wing windows breaking.

Tim
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