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Old 05-13-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
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1969 27' Overlander
St. Louis , Missouri
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To restore or renovate....

I drug my first ever airstream out of a farm field yesterday. It is a 1969 overlander LY. She's a bute! Our original plan was to completely gut the airstream and make it more modern, now I am having second thoughts! Everything is original on the airstream, and its all in pretty good shape. All the latches, covers, plastic bins, everything. I'm having a hard time bringing myself to getting rid of all of these good old materials. What would be my smartest option?
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:32 PM   #2
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Airstreams were built to camp and travel. If that is how you intend to use it, then doing the minimum amount of work to make it functional, and just enjoy using it. Some people like to make driveway jewelry and enjoy showing off their handy work. If that is you, knock yourself out doing a great job going either direction.
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:42 PM   #3
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If it works, don't fix it.. use it.. plan your 'rework' after you find out if she really NEEDS the facelift!
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noco View Post
What would be my smartest option?
Take it camping.
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:53 PM   #5
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1969 27' Overlander
St. Louis , Missouri
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Well first I need new tires, repack the bearings and tinker with brakes, then go through all the exterior lights. But the inside definetly needs some work, I just don't know if I should clean what's good and fix what's broken, our start anew
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:00 PM   #6
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1969 27' Overlander
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It's been sitting in a corn field for nine years, it's full of wasps nests and filthy. It's not ready for camping, but if I keep it original it could be ready a lot sooner
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:04 PM   #7
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1972 25' Tradewind
Hopkins , Minnesota
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I have a '72 LY that I picked up from a farmer's field. If it had been useable, I would have gone camping for a season...to contemplate whether I wanted to restore or renovate. But I had no choice. So now I am in the middle of a full-on shell-off 21st Century renovation. I would rather be camping. But in the end, I will have something really special...that looks nothing like the original (inside)...and a lot less money. hehehe.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:24 PM   #8
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To restore or renovate....

Greetings Noco!

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noco View Post
I drug my first ever airstream out of a farm field yesterday. It is a 1969 overlander LY. She's a bute! Our original plan was to completely gut the airstream and make it more modern, now I am having second thoughts! Everything is original on the airstream, and its all in pretty good shape. All the latches, covers, plastic bins, everything. I'm having a hard time bringing myself to getting rid of all of these good old materials. What would be my smartest option?
My suggestion would be to make a careful assessment of what the Overlander needs to make it ready for your future use. Some of the items for the assessment would include:
  • Condition of Axles. This is an important issue prior to any significant towing. The DuraTorque axles are old enough that the rubber rods are likely worn out, and you may also find that they have "frozen" in place or taken a "set". You can check-out your axles with information from this link.
  • Condition of Frame/Body Attachment. The things that you will want to check include front end separation, rear end separation, and frame rust.
    • The easiest to check for is rear end separation. While a friend stands on the rear bumper, observe the space between the body and bumper support . . . if a gap opens up then there is some degree of separation present . . . and it is often accompanied by floor rot in the rear one-stop-service compartment (if your Overlander is so equipped).
    • Front end separation is a little more difficult to diagnose, and is not extremely common in the 1960s Overlanders. One of the indicators is the presence of loose rivets in the body hold down anchor centered below the front window (identified by two rows of closely spaced rivets).
    • Frame rust is difficult to accurately diagnose, but given the fact that this Overlander has apparently spent quite some time parked in a field would make it a concern. Carefully inspect the visible portions of the frame around the rear bumper as well as around the hitch looking for evidence of rust perforations or excessive amounts of rust flaking. Where the frame is covered by the bellypan, you can take a rubber mallet and lightly tap while listening for metallic sounds that may indicate rust flaking off of the frame.
  • Condition of the floor. This assessment requires paying close attention to the floor particularly along the perimeter of the trailer. An ice pick or awl can be helpful to probe the floor along the perimeter looking for soft spots . . . paying particular attention to the area below windows, doors, or exterior access panels. Small, isolated soft spots can be repaired with wood consolidants and/or epoxy products, but larger areas will require patches of floor replacement.
  • The information that you gather from the above investigation will help to determine how much (if any) of the interior will need to be disassembled to make needed repairs to the floor and/or frame.
  • Gaskets, Seals, Weatherproofing. You are likely to find that weatherproofing will be one of your first projects. Windows, entry door, and access hatches will all likely need new gaskets and seals. Seams, body penetrations, and eterior lights will likely need to be sealed.
  • Condition/Functionality of Appliances. You may find that all appliances need replacement, but you may also find that most will work with some cleaning and minor repairs.
    • The furnace is the one item that will most likely require replacement. Many of the OEM furnaces from the Vintage years had reputations for weak heat exchangers that were prone to rust-out or had a tube that was the subject of a safety recall.
    • The water heater is likely a Bowen 10-gallon unit. These water heaters were quite durable, but it is well beyond its expected life so careful examination will be in order for both the condition and safety of the burner as well as for evidence of failure of the tank (pin holes in the bottom of the tank are among the more common failure points).
    • The range is common to many RV of the era, and often requires little more than a thorough cleaning. The stovetop is generally the least likely source of problems. The oven may be problematic as there have been a number of owners who have reported difficulty finding replacements for the oven thermostat that seems to be a common issue.
    • The LP tanks and regulator will also need to be inspected, and if they are the OEM Worthington Aluminum tanks you will likely want to have them re-cetified (will require installation of new OPD valves as well). If the LP tanks are steel, new steel tanks will likely be little more in cost than re-valving and inspecting old steel tanks.
    • The PAR water pump may be perfectly servicable if it hasn't been allowed to freeze. These were heavy duty pumps, and you can still source rebuild kits for most of the models utilized on our Vintage Airstreams. You may need to go to a boat dealer to find someone familiar with PAR pumps and parts as they are far more commonly utilized in the boating industry.
    • The Univolt is one item that is nearly universally recommended for replacement. The Univolt was in its fifth season in 1969, and these Univolts have the reputation of boiling the electyrolyte in batteries and drastically shortening the life of your coach's battery.
    • The Armstrong Bay Breeze air conditioner was a heavy duty assembly, and even if it isn't cooling it may well be worth rebuilding. A technician familiar with commercial cooling equipment (not an RV technician) should find the components in the Armstrong Bay Breeze familiar with most parts having modern equivalents available in the aftermarket. I wish that I had known more about the durability of these units and my dealer wouldn't have been able to talk me into replacing my Bay Breeze with a bad compressor (I would have had it rebuilt as it functioned far better than its new replacement).
    • The OEM Thetford toilet will likely be in need of replacement. Even if it appears clean, the water control valves are noted for becoming problematic and depending upon model you may find that the necessary repair parts are no longer available. The issue that you may find (assuming that you decide to maintain a semblance of originality) is that careful measurements may be necessary to insure that a new toilet will fit in the available space.
  • Given that the Overlander has spent considerable time parked in a field, you will likely find that all soft goods (drapes, upholtery, carpeting) will need to be replaced. It is also generally a good idea to plan on replacing the foam in the upholtered goods.
Once you have completed your assessment of the current conditions, you will have more data to use in making a decision on whether you wish to keep you Overlander original or if you want to go with a rennovation.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:51 PM   #9
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1969 27' Overlander
SW , Missouri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noco View Post
It's been sitting in a corn field for nine years, it's full of wasps nests and filthy. It's not ready for camping, but if I keep it original it could be ready a lot sooner
If all you need to do is clean it up, I'd say keep it original (as-is) and go camping!

Mine needed a front and rear subfloor replacement which resulted in gutting the trailer. I'm replacing the interior with some old and some new elements. I kept the basic layout, but it's definitely not a restoration. Of course it wasn't that close to original when I got it.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:54 PM   #10
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1969 27' Overlander
St. Louis , Missouri
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Thanks for the extensive checklist. I do have some soft areas in the floor in the bathroom and a little by the entry door. The back end worries me, as the tires sank in the mud, the back was almost resting on the ground. The belly pan is in pretty good shape tho, just some small dime sized holes here and there but nothing too major. The frame and axels also appear to be in good shape, I see they sell complete new axels, is it best to opt for new or refurb what is there? I'm leaning towards renovating the airstream. If I am to do so, must I completely lift the shell to replace the floor. Also if I change it, I would like to go with a modern floor plan with a bed in the rear, shower on street side with a seat over the wheel well, toilet and sink on opposite side. Kitchen and dinet in the same original location. Would this cause any weight distribution issues? Thanks again
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:16 PM   #11
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My only advice would be to try not to get in over your head (though you often don't know until you're already in too deep)! I see a lot of trailers gutted and sold as empty shells when folks give up on a big project.

Carefully remove the original interior when you do gut it so you can use them for patterns if you want, or put them back if they are in good shape (and you decide to go that way), or even offer them to some other Airstreamer who might need them. You never know. Especially fiberglass bathroom parts. Those can be hard to find. You wouldn't want to trash stuff and then change your mind and have no place to go back to. If the interior is any good (not all rotted and water damaged), it's easy to remove and put back in later. You might even want to address the most important things, and then try using it as is and see how you like the layout.

Good luck, and I hope you create something you'll be proud of and enjoy for many years to come (whether you leave it original, completely custom, or something in between)!
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:23 PM   #12
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1969 27' Overlander
SW , Missouri
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You can't get axles refurbished with new rubber anymore. If you have the original Henschen's, they probably should be replaced. Replacements are available from Henschen, Axis, or Dexter.

Since the tires sank in the mud, you will want to look closely at the rims for rust.

If you change the floor plan you can move the battery and the water heater forward of the axles. That will help offset increased weight from a rear bed setup.

You will also have significant weight in the holding tanks at times. If you can get those near the axles or in front of them that will help considerably with weight distribution.

You don't have to completely lift the shell to replace the subfloor. I didn't lift my shell and was able to replace the front 4 feet, rear 4 feet and a piece near my door. If you have to do the entire subfloor, it would be easier to lift the shell.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:51 AM   #13
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If the interior is in pretty good shape, I would never gut it, while changing the layout and installing a new interior. I would only do this if the present interior is unusable.

There are plenty of improvements and repairs to be made if you can keep the floor plan and interior intact: My interior is all original and I am still making the following repairs and improvements- convertor, 2 six volt golf cart batteries, LED lights, floating cork floor, new faucets, restore sink surface, new toilet, new AC (custom window mount, no it is not a redneck job), new120v electrical, new Pex lines, flat screen TV, flag pole mounted Jack antenna, new axles and brakes, solar panels, rework 12v electrical with new instrumentation, floor repair, etc.

The bottom line is that even with a perfect interior, there is a lot of good work to be done to modernize your trailer so that you can use it for the next 20 years and make it just as serviceable as a new trailer.

Remember that new solutions have new problems. Good luck in whatever approach you decide on.

Dan
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:19 PM   #14
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1969 27' Overlander
St. Louis , Missouri
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Well after consideration I've decided to stick with the original interior of the airstream. I spoke with Colin Hyde today and am set to order new axels. I need to get it rolling right first in case I have to move it!
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