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Old 07-20-2017, 10:17 AM   #1
New Member
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1
1973 Sovereign Restoration

My name is Alexander Jackson and I am from Nashville, TN. I work for a small family owned and operated masrony subcontracting buisness right outside of downtown called Jackson Masonry. I am a little mechanically inclined and like to consider myself somewhat of a wrencher. Recently, I came across a good deal on a 1973 Airstream Sovereign from a family member and decided to buy it. I am a complete beginner to the Airstream but I beleive I have the resources to restore this baby to its former glory.

Grateful my girlfriend is so willing to help

Thats me wondering what I got myself into.

That is my father

With the interior skin still on.

300 revits later

And this is where I am at currently. I have had the Airstream for about 3 weeks now and after inspecting the subfloor and rear bumper frame rails welding and new floors are on the horizon. Once again I am a newbie to this entire experience and any advice would be greatly appreciated. Is temporary bracing required before I lift the shell off the frame? What else do I need to put in the floor besides the water tanks and plumbing before I spray foam? I really would just like a list of how I need to modernize this Airstream and how to build it back properly. I will continue my progress and look forward to building a relationship with the forum.
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Old 07-20-2017, 11:56 AM   #2
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Belegedhel's Avatar
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,853
Welcome to the forums!

One piece of advice I would offer is to try google searches from outside the forums, for example terms like "airforums lifting shell". You will have better luck than using the built in search function.

Second piece of advice is to get your hands on the shop manual for your trailer. If you don't intend to use any of the original wiring, plumbing, or furnishings, then this may not be of much use, though.

The third piece of advice is don't over think it. You can spend months laboring over decisions like what is the best insulation, what is the best flooring, etc.

As to whether you need to brace the inside of the shell, it depends on how you lift it. If you lift from above (for instance, using gantries), then you don't need bracing. If you jack it up, then you will need something to jack against.

My guidance regarding rennovating a vintage Airstream would be to hope for the best and expect the worst, and plan a shell-off from the beginning.

1) Spend up to two years looking for the trailer that is in the best shape, with the best price, with the best floor plan, only to drive too far to look at a trailer, and buy it out of desperation, as you don't want to go home empty handed.
2) Remove the interior including all inside skins and insulation--store it in a temporary shed (that will become permanent).
3) Build a set of gantries--you'll need them.
4) Lift the shell (using the gantries) from the frame and set aside.
5) Use the gantries you built to lift and flip the frame.
6) Remove belly pan, gas lines, etc., and set aside.
7) Perform all repairs on the frame, address rust and paint (again, lifting and flipping in the process).
8) Install new floor on frame.
9) Flip, insulate the underside of the floor, install retro-fitted grey tanks.
10) Install belly pan with frame still upside down.
11) Install new axles (with frame upside down, using the gantries as a crane).
12) Pressure wash the interior of the shell--make every effort to get rid of the mouse piss and old insulation--this is your only chance.
13) Lift the shell, wheel the frame back underneath, and set the shell back in place.
14) Complete reconnection of shell to frame.
15) Replace all door and window seals, plumbing vent seals, perform any shell patches, panel replacements, AC replacement, etc. (use the gantries as scaffolding to access the roof of your trailer).
16) Seal the inside of the shell, every rivet, every seam.
17) Spray primer on the inside of the shell to not only protect from corrosion, but to seal in funk.
18) Write a mysterious message to the next restorer on the inside of your shell.
19) Rennovate/install any awnings and ensure that any new shell penetrations do not leak.
20) Confirm that your shell no longer leaks.
21) Assess wiring in the shell. Rewire if necessary, realizing what a PITA it will be, trying not to nick any wires.
22) Strip the clear coat off your shell if needed.
23) Polish the areas around the trim, emblems, clearance lights before reinstallation.
24) Thoroughly investigate every kind of insulation known to mankind and then install the pink fiberglass stuff anyway.
25) Reinstall interior skins after thoroughly cleaning them--paint the backsides with primer to encapsulate the old stank you can never wash off.
26) Rebuild electrical distribution system (battery, fuse board, etc.).
27) Layout your future cabinetry.
28) Begin to run water lines, realizing some of them will go under/behind furnishings
29) Start from the rear of the trailer and rebuild the interior furnishings, cabinetry.
30) Lay down new flooring.
31) Rerun the gas lines.
32) Finish installing appliances.
33) Do the blinds/drapes/upholstery.
34) Finish whatever polishing you want to do on the exterior
35) Seal every exterior seam
36) Discover new leaks and throw a fit
37) Throw away all the receipts, as it is just too depressing to know how much you just spent.
38) Count the gray hairs/hair loss that has resulted from the years you have spent on the project.

good luck!
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