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Old 11-30-2019, 09:53 AM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Week 1 almost down. What I have learned and what eludes me.

I've been in actual possession of my Sovereign for a week now.
In that short amount of time I have:
1. Already spent time doing a bit of demo, learning how these things are put together.

2. I learned that the reason the hot water heater and tank exterior access door WAS sealed up was because the original unit was replaced with a gas and electric unit. The new Hott Rod was not needed.

3. I have learned that heating the water with electricity while running a small electric space heater can really stress an old 30 amp breaker.

4. I learned that Lowes is open an extra hour starting yesterday, Black Friday.

5. I got to replace the 30amp main breaker at 11pm after a mad dash to Lowes.

6. I have NOT learned why the kitchen and bathroom sinks drain into the bathtub. Why that water then easily will empty to a "BlueBoy" eludes me? The toilet does not appear to discharge to the bath tub.

7. I thought I knew that this model of Airstream did not have a gray tank. I do not have a clue what kind of tanks are hiding in the belly. Of course, the way this is working so far, there might not be any tanks down there?

8. I have figured out that the sewer system draining mechanisms are not original, they are "custom" designed let's say and thus the function is not per any available instructions.

9. I have learned to avoid having the entire window unit dismount from its hinge. Although the design of the top hanging/hinge is incredibly simple, the angle to reinstall the window to the body is exactly 135.784351 degrees, exactly.

10. Thus I know to leave the exterior portion of the windows completely attached when cleaning all of the degraded film and funk from between the panes.

11. Rear end separation IS a real affliction who's remedy will apparently cause the separation of my wallet from my rear-end Levi's pocket.

12. Finally, I have further learned that I absolutely LOVE my 1972 Sovereign 31' despite its faults. My Sovereign of Streams (think Dire Straits song, Sultans of Swing) was a $5,500 solution to being homeless, funded by a GoFundME (Find my story there by searching for Joe May in Edmond OK). Sov, is lifting my spirits, bringing me joy, a roof over my head and a place to stay warm and dry. God is so good, but this I already knew!
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Old 11-30-2019, 10:42 AM   #2
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Welcome, HappyJoe.

Sounds like you have the right attitude. See you down the road.

Pat
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Old 11-30-2019, 12:08 PM   #3
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Lots of things elude me nowadays. My wife says my mind is going - it’s the second thing to go I tell her (can’t remember the first)!! Ha!

But as long as I can hook up Sali and go camping I’M GOOD!
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:37 PM   #4
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Glad to hear of your good fortune and may it continue, best wishes and thx for a positive story... always welcome these days
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Old 11-30-2019, 04:37 PM   #5
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Glad you had a good week!
The reason the sink drains into the shower is because it is the lowest fixture. Since there is no gray water storage tank, when the pipe gets full it backs up into the shower.
Gray water is from 2 sinks and shower.
Black water is from the toilet sewerage. There is a black water storage tank only in your 1972 Sov.(originally)
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Old 11-30-2019, 10:03 PM   #6
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Thanks!
I am confused about what to do? I hooked up a borrowed water carrier, hooked it up to the drain. I pulled a valve lever on the big pipe - nothing. Pulled a valve lever on a little pipe feeding in to the big pipe, tub drained to cart. Closed valves water goes straight to tub. Toilet water goes somewhere, I think???
I am completely bamboozled by this one?
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:12 AM   #7
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Addressing your problem with those hinged windows- I have the same hinge on my windows and exterior access doors.

I about went crazy trying to get a window back in after it seemed to "fall" out when I was replacing the weather strip. After a wearing out my shoulders, I remembered that the window frame I was having such a problem with was the same one I would often lean a ladder on to avoid leaning it on the exterior wall of the trailer. On closer inspection- the ladder had closed up the gap on the hinge enough to where it was impossible to get the window back in. I took a wide stiff putty knife and gently opened that gap back up and the window reinstalled without a problem.

Have fun with your "new trailer"

Shawn
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Old 12-01-2019, 07:48 AM   #8
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As ‘A W Warn’ said there is a black tank but no gray tank.

The sinks and shower would drain into a gray tank if you had one. Because you don’t have a gray tank, the drain pipes from the sinks and shower stop at the smaller valve. So it doesn’t take much water to fill the pipes. Because water seeks its own level and the shower being the lowest point, when you add water to a sink drain it will backup into the shower. So a portable tank is one option. Adding a gray tank in the future is another option. A third opinion is to drain the gray water (sinks and shower) on to the ground, if it is permitted in your area.

The toilet flushes into the black tank. Which should empty when you open the larger valve. If it is not emptying it may be clogged.
The water and waste from the black tank should never be drained onto the ground. If there is not a septic tank within reach of you drain hose, you should empty the black tank into the portable tank and take it to a dump station.
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happyjoemay View Post
Thanks!
I am confused about what to do? I hooked up a borrowed water carrier, hooked it up to the drain. I pulled a valve lever on the big pipe - nothing. Pulled a valve lever on a little pipe feeding in to the big pipe, tub drained to cart. Closed valves water goes straight to tub. Toilet water goes somewhere, I think???
I am completely bamboozled by this one?
Open valves at different times, never both open at the same time.

Assuming the black tank is still there and plumbing is in original location/function, leave the (larger) black water valve CLOSED during normal use. You want liquid/solid sewerage to build up in the tank so that the increased discharge flow will push the heavier solids out of the tank. If you don't let it fill properly before dumping, eventually it will stop up. 50% full is ok, 75% is better, 90% best. After dumping black is complete flush the tank, run some clean water through the toilet.

When you are using the trailer leave the (smaller) gray water valve OPEN during normal use, so that liquids will drain all the time. When you are ready to dump the black water, just before opening the black valve close the gray water valve. You do not want black water running into the shower.

ps:
Valves wear out and when it does the seal will leak. If the above does not work, there might be a leak in the black water valve. This will allow solid sewerage to build up in the black water storage tank while letting liquid sewerage leak out. If this is occurring repair it ASAP.

ps2:
If you can post a photo of the valves that will help

ps3:
It can take a few weeks for one person to fill the black tank properly. If you want to dump more often, add water to the proper fill level before dumping. If you are dumping black water into a sewerage tote, get one that is larger than the black tank capacity. It is not good to dump the black tank in small portions.
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:44 AM   #10
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OK, I completely re-did my plumbing throughout, so this next tip comes from my ancestral plumbing knowledge... I've usually found that drainage problems come from improper (or clogged) vents. You might try running a small snake (the plumbing kind, available for rent) or stiff wire down from the vent on the roof. Another solution would be to install a vented trap under the sink. These are available for like $40, or google "crown venting" for a more DIY solution. I like the latter idea, plumbed up as tall as possible, in that the vent can gush out "water" if you space out emptying your tank.
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argosy man View Post
...I would often lean a ladder on to avoid leaning it on the exterior wall of the trailer.
A smart and savvy fellow once demonstrated that a block of stiff foam capping the top of the ladder permits it to lean on the aluminum without doing harm.
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:55 AM   #12
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Welcome to the AIRForum - and the adventure begins
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Old 12-01-2019, 03:46 PM   #13
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Attitude A+

Attitude, Gratitude and Spirituality. You have all three Joe. Great name as well. Hope to see you around someday. Regards, Joe
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:10 PM   #14
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wow - my posting is to subscribe and perhaps lend some experience.

So many options available to you now & that it was partially torn apart is a good thing, hopefully...

#1 suggestion: put in the work to make a visitors nose happy... your own will go nose-deaf rapidly, there are huge hidden surface areas behind/beneath/beside all the built-ins... behind the sloppily fitted bathroom endcap liner aluminum I found a thumbprint from a factory assembly line worker that had grown an eighteen-inch 'fairy ring' of mildew around it.

Fine, you don't want to hear that yet there is no telling what all is/was living, lived, died in it AND we cant pull the bathroom out, clean, and reassemble without it going into geologic epoch time frames. But...

If* I was going to start my rehab over I would rent an Ozone generator and nuke the trailer, oscillating fan going, all lockers and doors open, ozone maker plugged into extension cord to outdoor outlet and let 24-36 hours pass before unplugging cord and letting it air out WITHOUT you entering trailer.

Are any original cushions or mattresses there, they are laytex foam and $$$$ to duplicate, just 1/4" under the oxidized surface is perfect fresh laytex, just find some old boy w/ a foam cutter to 'face' it up... I found a guy who'd do it a day late.

Anyhow - keep focused, we'll leave the light on here for you...
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:09 AM   #15
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Have I been missing the point the whole time?

First thank you to the many people who have so kindly offered help and encouragement.

I realized last night that I might not being fully comprehending a point that many have made. This model of Airstream was built with only a black water tank. I have been assuming that meant that everything flowed to that one tank, not just the toilet.
Is that where my thinking has been wrong? Does the lack of a gray water tank actually mean that the design of this Airstream intended for the gray water to never be held? In 1972 did they just let the gray water flow though to the ground? Were gray water disposal rules different back then? In order to comply with "new rules" am I supposed to either be in full hookup or to have an external gray water cart always hooked up?
Has the point so many have tried to tell me finally smacked me upside the head? I am embarrassed for not getting it. All this while I've been thinking to myself "it's like there isn't a tank under there at all" while reading repeatedly there isn't a gray water tank under there.
If this is indeed the case, it totally makes sense.
If I am on the right path with this line of new assumptions, please let me know.
Thank you again to all of you people with so much more wisdom than me. I can not begin to tell you how much I am valuing your advice and expertise.
Joe May
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:36 AM   #16
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The first few days after I got my new home to the campgrounds were beautiful weather days. I opened up every window and aired the place out. It had a powerful odor of cigar smoke going on. Although I kind of thought the cigar smell gave the place an appropriate vibe, an "olfactory vibe" is not necessarily appreciated by all.
The PO of my airstream was technically a Geology Company. My impression is that it was more likely a single rouge local honcho of the company that went out on a limb. I came to understand that the guy bought this airstream in Dallas, brought it up here to Edmond OK and devoted many corporate hours and dollars into an attempt to turn it into a traveling lab for their oil and gas industry needs. My understanding was that he/they paid $8k for it. He/they had it rewired, stripped out with the exception of the kitchen and bath parts, put in new flooring, started painting the interior and it also appears someone put 100's of hours polishing but that is not complete. The guy got canned at some point and the airstream sat in the corner of the companies giant warehouse / garage / shop for a couple of years.
It is obviously another persons abandoned project. None of the projects that were started seem to have been completed. Trying to get my mind around what's what and where is part of my challenge. I am completely new to this entire camper trailer experience. The learning curve is steep but I have the skills needed and airforums is being a huge resource for knowledge.
I bought the airstream for $5,500. I had recently lost my home and was living in a tent at a local campground. I used a gofundme to facilitate the purchase. If you are curious you can read my story by going to that site and searching for my name, Joe May in Edmond OK.
Thanks! I better get to work here. The sun is shining!
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:52 AM   #17
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Yes, you DO NOT have a gray tank.
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:10 PM   #18
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Are the rest of my assumptions correct:
The sinks and tub DO NOT flow in to the black water tank?
The sinks and tub were intended to be allowed to flow directly out to the ground or into a sewer dain?
I have to always have a portable tank hooked up to my Sovereign to appropriately contain my gray water?
I fully comprehend the lack of a gray water tank, it's the rest of the story that eludes me.
Thanks GeocamperAS for your swift reply.
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:24 PM   #19
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Maybe these pics help?
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:45 PM   #20
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These might help too.

I have pointed out handle 1 & 2 in each picture.

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