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Swrider 07-31-2019 12:36 PM

WTH Did I Just Get Into - '72 Ambassador
Originally posted this on the Interior Remodel subforum before I realized that, duh, there's an Ambassador forum!
So i'll repost my initial entry here...

Ok then, now its real. Airstream is bought and we took it to our house; or what will soon become our house
Sooo were to even begin???
Ok a little background. We are in the process of building a new home and because of this we previously purchased a 2018 22' Sport which we have been using to live in and travel while the house is being constructed. But we've come to realize that this is a bit cramped given that we have three dogs. The opportunity came up to buy this trailer and we figured that we could park it at the lot and use it as an extended living space while we are there, thus helping out with the lack of space.
So the main objective for the new Land Yacht is to turn it into a big open living space. Think living/tv/bar area. (the bar part is important)
So how do we get there...
First thing will be to get rid of the butt ugly green shaggy carpet. Its gotta go.
Second, open up every drawer and cabinet and look for things that are bad; rot, leaks, critters...
Third, make sure that the trailer as a whole is a solid shelter from the elements, i.e. if it rains we don't get wet, if its windy we don't feel the drafts, things along those lines.
And that's about as far as I've come in the planning phase. The wife already has a general layout of what we would like to accomplish. But I would appreciate everyone's help on here as to how to accomplish what we need to get it fixed and livable.
I will be posting pictures of it as soon as i can get back to the lot tomorrow. For what it is i don't believe that its a bad trailer. It definitely shows its age, some dings, some dents, rotten insulation around windows, no AC, and i don't even know if any appliances work. Lights work, it has batteries, although i don't know where they are. There is a bathroom and the previous owner said that the previous owner told him that the tanks were good, but are there any leaks... won't know until i dig in.
It does have an electric jack, that works, i was surprised, but not so much when I heard certain pops coming from the body as my wife backed it in to its spot. So i am thinking that it might need some reinforcing somewhere on the body.
Well, like anyone who has done this before me knows, Holy Mother of God what have we gotten into!!!
Fun times to come, for sure. I will try and keep this post up to date with progress reports and pics, and I will be asking for help on things as they come up. Thankfully I've come to realize, from the vast amounts of time spent reading here, that this community is awesome, for all of the people that take the time to read and help out. Love being a part of this.
And if you are ever in Las Vegas let me know, if anything we can hang out and have some cold drinks!!!
P.S. I almost forgot, if someone out there knows, what freakin model trailer is this??? The person who sold it to us listed it as a Land Yacht, but the trailer has a plaque on it naming it International & Ambassador, I am so confused

Swrider 07-31-2019 03:24 PM

A couple of questions to get me going in the right direction.
Windows - where can i find replacement windows in case I cannot restore the ones on my Ambassador
Rivets - and the tools to install them. In my Navy days i did a lot of rivets, but that was a couple of decades ago. What size rivets do these units use and is there an automatic/pneumatic tool for them, or is the old manual rivet gun the only option?
Body panels - after reading a couple of threads on these trailers i am realizing that I might have a rotted subfloor on the back, and i did notice that the aluminum body is a bid crunched down. If I have to replace it, where is a good place to purchase from?
I will have many pictures posted later today.
Thanks for all the help :wally:

skyguyscott 07-31-2019 04:31 PM

Where to begin, indeed!
Ok, so you have a vintage AS, one that sounds like it needs some work...

What you told us: you want to live in it for a while during your home construction, that it will be stationary, that you want to gut it and turn it into a giant living room/bar.

What is your budget?

What is your time frame?

What are your plans for the trailer once your house is done?

If you have rear end separation requiring a new floor, you can DIY with much effort and sweat equity, or you can farm it out costing you plenty. Either case takes time, unless you plan to junk the trailer afterwards, in which case you can just live with it as is for a year.

In general, the nicer you want it to be, the longer it will take and more costly it will be.

If you want to resell the trailer later on, or use it on the road, gutting it and making it into a large room will cause it's resell value to plummet to near scrap prices, and also make it challenging to tow on the road without the reinforcing bulkheads in place. And, generally speaking, remodels and renovations rarely earn back the investment you spend, especially any labor you invest.

So, what is your budget/timeframe and intentions? Anything is possible, but nothing is quick or cheap.

Some specific answers:

Where can i find....?

Where can I buy....?

Rivets - the outer skin is buck riveted together and to the ribs, hopefully you won't need to mess with this. The inner skin is pop riveted to the ribs, there are plenty of souces to find cheap pop rivet guns from Wally world to the big box stores. You can also invest in fancy electric ones. Most commonly used are 1/4" of different lengths, but occasionally you will run into larger diameter.

I am not sure I understand the question about the subfloor. No one sells AS subfloors. You either have to buy the materials (i.e. 1/2" 5/8" or 3/4" flavor of plywood or Coosa Board and DIY, or tow the trailer to JC or another vendor who does it for you (at considerable cost)

See the links above for sources of AS body panels. JC does not stock vintage panels.

Also, from the sound of it, it is possible, if not likely, your frame will need to be rebuilt in the rear, requiring a welder. This is most typically done shell-off, but may be able to be accomplished shell-on. Depending on the amount of work needed, your budget and so on, shell off is the most efficient way to tackle many problems and avoid creating new ones, but it is a big project with long timelines, and lots of tasks to keep track of.

Swrider 07-31-2019 10:44 PM

Thanks for your reply scott.
So to answer your questions...
Budget is limited. Because we have an actual house build in progress every penny saved goes into that. Now, we realize that we need to put money on this trailer to make it what we need, so whatever money, within reason, is needed for that, we will put it in. But trying to keep the cost of purchase and upgrades to less than $10k, which isn't much.
Time frame is flexible. We have the sport, and its great, but the sooner we get the Ambassador up to our standard the better we'll be. Preferable within three weeks.
After the house is built... Its up in the air. May try and sell it as is, or might keep it and make it road worthy again.
As it is, now that we've had it for a day and were able to walk around it and really look at what we have, we realize that for what we need means to pretty much concentrate on aesthetics and comfort. So clean it up as best we can, take out the kitchen and forward couch, the oven and the twin bed right behind it and make that whole area nice and open. Put a desk where the twin bed used to be and refurbish the other one into a day bed for comfortable reading. The forward area will have a nice couch put in and a tv stand installed so we can relax in the evenings. Obviously new flooring will go in, refurbish all windows, vents and lights. I will try and clean up as much as i can on the outside, meaning awning, doors and roof elements.
But for now, this list is long and I will try and detail it more in the coming days.
Pictures to follow :D

Swrider 07-31-2019 10:50 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Ok, pictures!!!
And some questions. First of, windows, wth is going on with all the pealing?
Looks like they are double pane plexiglass???
Can theybbe taken apart and fixed???
Attachment 348169Attachment 348170Attachment 348171

Swrider 07-31-2019 10:51 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Second question, the lower panels, can you buy new ones???Attachment 348172Attachment 348173Attachment 348174

Swrider 07-31-2019 10:53 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Some dings and dents...
The last picture is of where the bumper meets the body. Does it look like i will have body seperation there [emoji848]Attachment 348175Attachment 348176Attachment 348177

Iansk 08-01-2019 06:12 AM


Originally Posted by skyguyscott (Post 2271544)

Rivets - the outer skin is buck riveted together and to the ribs, hopefully you won't need to mess with this. The inner skin is pop riveted to the ribs, there are plenty of souces to find cheap pop rivet guns from Wally world to the big box stores. You can also invest in fancy electric ones. Most commonly used are 1/4" of different lengths, but occasionally you will run into larger diameter.

1/8” diameter is the standard inside pop rivet, NOT 1/4”.

Do not buy cheap rivets from a big box store unless you know they are all aluminum including the mandrel. Use a magnet, if the rivet attracts to the magnet, don’t use it.

Do yourself a favor and buy an pneumatic pop rivet gun if you have more than a few rivets to do.

If done right and well, an open floor plan with systems in place won’t kill the resale for the right buyer.

Bulkheads do very little to support the structure, the skins (inside and out) do that job.


Iansk 08-01-2019 06:21 AM


You’ve got some serious rear end issues there.
I think you should take a deep breath and reevaluate your three week timeline.
The windows can be fixed, the banana wraps can be repaired or replaced, but that back end looks pretty bad. I’d be very surprised if the subfloor wasn’t all but rotted out back there and I’ll bet that area is where you heard the creaking come from. It’s likely not engaged to the frame anymore.

My best advice is to read through a couple full restoration threads, doesn’t have to be exactly your trailer, just similar year. It’ll at least give you an idea where to start and you can glean what info you need from those threads.


PatLee 08-01-2019 09:37 AM

Any chance you could sell the AS back and buy an SOB to live in instead during construction? I think you'd come out ahead, financially and comfort-wise.

Swrider 08-01-2019 09:57 AM

Hey Ian, so i am starting to realize that rear end will be a pain in my rear end [emoji53]
But for now i think we can leave it for later for a couple of reasons.
One, the trailer will not move anymore from where it is, therefore it doesn't need to be road worthy. For this phase.
Second, since we need it mostly as an extended living area, we don't have need of the bathroom area, hence we can concentrate on the forward area, making it comfortable and usable. For this phase.
Eventually the i plan on stipping everything out, down to the shell and frame. And rebuild from there.
But for now, while we are building a house, we need a weather proof, comfortable living area.

Swrider 08-01-2019 11:02 AM


Originally Posted by PatLee (Post 2271768)
Any chance you could sell the AS back and buy an SOB to live in instead during construction? I think you'd come out ahead, financially and comfort-wise.

At this point not really. Is the Ambassador truly that bad that I should consider dumping it for another???
I do intend on doing a full restoration of the trailer, just that at this moment the needs for it are different. After the house is built, that will change.

SuzyHomemakr 08-01-2019 11:11 AM

Another '72 Ambassador owner here!

Have you jumped up and down on the rear bumper yet? That will tell you about your rear end separation.

Those dents right above the lower trim strip look worrisome- they act as a funnel to make sure that water seeps into your floor boards. When you strip out the carpets, you'll be able to see the state of the floorboards better. Be sure to have a respirator, garbage bags, and plenty of liquid refreshment on hand when you do remove the carpet. It's a nasty job!

Rear bath, right? Floor spongy in there? Mine sure was. I got away with a partial floor replacement, but the entire bathroom was destroyed during removal.

Monza 08-01-2019 04:51 PM

Also another 72 owner here, A Tradewind but pretty much the same.

I hate to tell you, I think it looks pretty bad, that rear-end floor will be rotted for sure, and maybe separated. Maybe you could hobble together everything else into working order and leave the rear end until you do a full frame off.
You still don't know if any appliances work, you know the plumbing leaks. I'd suspect from the looks of the outside condition you'll have an issue with everything inside. Everything is almost 50 years old. Do you try and fix them? I'd replace with new personally, so you'll be throwing good money into bad.

I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but you took on a full-blown project not a temporary place to live. IMO get some other trailer Airstream or not to live in now that needs no work and fix that bad boy up when you have the time and it's not needed for living quarters.

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